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MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl

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akenaton 06 Mar 06 - 06:16 PM
ifor 06 Mar 06 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Obie 06 Mar 06 - 06:54 PM
Folkiedave 06 Mar 06 - 07:16 PM
Goose Gander 06 Mar 06 - 07:22 PM
akenaton 06 Mar 06 - 07:45 PM
Goose Gander 06 Mar 06 - 07:55 PM
akenaton 06 Mar 06 - 08:00 PM
Piers 07 Mar 06 - 05:27 AM
Purple Foxx 07 Mar 06 - 05:47 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Mar 06 - 06:22 AM
Wolfgang 07 Mar 06 - 06:38 AM
Piers 07 Mar 06 - 07:07 AM
greg stephens 07 Mar 06 - 07:17 AM
Purple Foxx 07 Mar 06 - 07:18 AM
Paul Burke 07 Mar 06 - 07:36 AM
shepherdlass 07 Mar 06 - 07:52 AM
Piers 07 Mar 06 - 08:43 AM
Keith A of Hertford 07 Mar 06 - 08:57 AM
Paul Burke 07 Mar 06 - 09:24 AM
ifor 07 Mar 06 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,J C 07 Mar 06 - 02:51 PM
greg stephens 07 Mar 06 - 04:37 PM
Piers 07 Mar 06 - 04:58 PM
ifor 07 Mar 06 - 06:17 PM
Goose Gander 07 Mar 06 - 06:37 PM
Big Al Whittle 07 Mar 06 - 07:07 PM
woodsie 07 Mar 06 - 10:04 PM
melodeon king 07 Mar 06 - 10:11 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 07 Mar 06 - 11:10 PM
GUEST 07 Mar 06 - 11:31 PM
GUEST,DB 08 Mar 06 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,J C 08 Mar 06 - 04:01 AM
GUEST,J C 08 Mar 06 - 04:06 AM
Wolfgang 08 Mar 06 - 04:24 AM
Piers 08 Mar 06 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Obie 08 Mar 06 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,J C 08 Mar 06 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,G.p 08 Mar 06 - 12:47 PM
ifor 08 Mar 06 - 01:01 PM
Piers 08 Mar 06 - 01:29 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Mar 06 - 01:40 PM
ifor 08 Mar 06 - 02:34 PM
ifor 08 Mar 06 - 02:40 PM
Piers 08 Mar 06 - 05:24 PM
greg stephens 08 Mar 06 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,melodeon thing 08 Mar 06 - 07:33 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Mar 06 - 08:26 PM
Barry Finn 09 Mar 06 - 01:16 AM
Paco Rabanne 09 Mar 06 - 02:56 AM
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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 06:16 PM

I agree with you Obie, because we despise Capitalism , it dosn't follow that we think Communism the answer.

Due to environmental degradation and dwindling energy suppies, work in the indusrial sense will no longer be seen as a virtue.
People will demand more contact with the natural world and some meaning and fulfillment in their lives.
The days when life consisted of slavery for the many in pursuit of power for the few are thankfully almost over...Ake


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: ifor
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 06:21 PM

"Communism started as a form of socialism.However it was derailed by human greed for power and wealth".
Actually I disagree with the above statement!
The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in the months and years after 1917 was viciously attacked and just about strangled by a right wing counter revolution with over a dozen foreign armies including British and American invading.They in turn supported right wing "white "armies led by the most reactionary anti semitic generals who were determined to conduct a bloodbath against the Russian working class led by the Bolshevik Party.

Russia had already seen some 20 million peole killed in the war between 1914 and 1917.The foreign invasions and the white russian onslaught meant millions more dead and the collapse of the economy and indeed the working class itself.The flower of revolutionary Russia died at the front defending the revolution and with the death of Lenin and the defeat of Trotsky Stalin was able to basically lead a counter revolution based on state capitalism and a form of Russian nationalism. The revolution had been choked to death.

Stalin through the control of the state apparatus murdered and imprisoned the bolsheviks and it is interesting to note that almost all the original leaders of the revolution were killed by him including his most implacable foe ,Trotsky.While Stalin stood for a vile kind of russian nationalism Trotsky was a revolutionary internationalist and a long time opponent of capitalism and its barbaric wars.Incidentally ,Trotsky was firmly opposed to any "party line" on culture and art.In this he differed completely from the Stalinists who followed a cultural line that celebrated the motherland and Stalin himself.
If the revolution was defeated by power and greed it was conducted on behalf of a imperial capitalism wading through the blood of the first world war to ensure that their rule was not challenged by revolutionary communism or the bolshevik revolution of 1917.
ifor


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 06:54 PM

ifor,
   I argue not with your statement but with the concept that communism started with the Russian revolution. Karl Marx was not a Russian but a German who died 35 years earlier and Thomas More an Englishman who died centuries earlier. At least in theory it existed long before. What you state seems to agree rather than disagree.
Likewise capitalism in one form or another has been with us for many years.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Folkiedave
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 07:16 PM

A song about the leader of a small impoverished peasant country that stood up to and eventually kicked the arse of the most powerful and avariciously aggressive nation in the world (having already seen off Japan and France) has my vote as a candidate for a song, and as far as I'm concerned Ho Chi Mhin certainly wasn't 'the other side'.

Very sincerely, I wished I had written that.

Please if we wish to argue the value of Ewan's work - and my limited knowledge of the man leads me to believe he would have loved such an argument - lets keep that to one thread.

There is a separate and possible equally valid argument about the value of the various types of socialism and the personalities involved.
.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Goose Gander
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 07:22 PM

"MacColl knew that Capitalism destroyed any culture which didn't fit the pattern"

The Soviet Union spent decades attempting to strangle the folk cultures of Eastern Europe and Central Asia in order to create a 'new Soviet Man' or something like that. Capitalism in the twentieth century didn't so much destroy folk culture as absorb it and commodify it. Much was destroyed in the process, I agree, but in the case of the American recording industry in the 1920s commercial interests inadvertently documented traditional music that otherwise might have been 'lost' (not that it would have disappeared, of course, but the record would have tremendous gaps). Which would you prefer, a system that at least allows for some space in which folk culture can be preserved, or one that deliberately obliterates it in order to advance a 'scientific' theory of social organization?


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 07:45 PM

What I think is not pertinent to this thread, but you generalise. The folk music of Communist Cuba and many Eastern European states are subsidised and encouraged.

The indigenous people of Latin America, who are about to form a great socialist alliance also have a strong folk culture which I believe will be assured by the new regimes.

So if I must choose it would be the system which values music and art for its own sake, not the one which bends and distorts anything of real worth into the shape of the £ or the $.....Ake


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Goose Gander
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 07:55 PM

I don't mean to hijack this thread either, so I'll just say that my comments were in reference to the USSR during the rule of Stalin. I don't consider Hugo Chavez to be anything close to Stalin, and I even admire him for standing up to George W. Bush (whether recent events in Latin America lead to a "great socialist alliance" or just another series of incompetent regimes remains to be seen).


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 06 Mar 06 - 08:00 PM

Thanks MM


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Piers
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:27 AM

In writings of the pioneers of socialist and communist thought in the late 19th century, the terms socialism and communism were used interchangebly, both to mean a society of social/common ownership which involves the abolition of private property, money (the means of exchanging privately owned things) and actual democracy (one person's say being as good as anothers in the workplace and in social matters). These pioneers believed that the only possible way of building such a society was from the bottom up, as it were. Marx wrote that workers of all lands should unite to overthrow existing social conditions. Most Russians didn't want socialism/communism in the early 20th century and they didn't get. They got a society with even less democracy than countries with mixed state-private capital-based economies and an economy of mostly state-owned industries where the political elite lived off surplus created by the workers rather than private individuals, workers in "Communist" Russia were as exploited as we are in the west, and Lenin's worker's state never turned into socialism.

The Bolshevik policy of a revolutionary vanguard seizing power by any means necessary (force, deception, populist tactics) to control the state and emancipate the workers on their behalf (whether they wanted it or not) is anti-democratic and anti-socialist. Many people call themselves socialists and still advocate this kind of means to achieve socialist/communist society (like Trotsky did, remember Kronstadt!). Whilst one can empathise with those like MacColl who support and have supported Bolshevik tactics you can't have socialism without socialists. If we want to be rid of war, poverty, miserable work, leaders and bosses and have a society where the priority of production is simply to fulfil human needs we have to make socialists. That is what it means to be a socialist.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:47 AM

Marx only ever used the word "Socialist." pejoratively.
20 Years ago Anthony Wright wrote a book suggesting we ought to speak of "Socialisms."I think that's valid.
I actively disliked MacColl's hard line Authoritarian dogma.
This does not invalidate his music.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 06:22 AM

George Moore (great novelist who happened to be Irish) once described Jesus a "the pale socialist of Galilee".

Some people (George amongst them)weren't keen on Jesus either.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Wolfgang
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 06:38 AM

Ake,

you did not understand my point. I consider Dirty Old Town (and many other songs) as brilliant and Ballad of Stalin as crap.

A very noble feeling can lead to a very bad song (rather not vice versa) so motives are not a good guide to discuss song quality.

I agree that MacColl's political ideas have led him to select the themes of his songs and the radio ballads. His ideas led him to portray workers, gipsies, outcasts instead of "normal people". A good choice in my eyes. But that's not what makes him a great song writer.

The way he writes is what makes him great. He gives voice to the people he writes about. He lets us look at life how it is for them (fishing, boxing, mining,...) The morale and the politics are between the lines. We are moved for he can make us feel how injustice, hard work, laughter, losses feels for the people he writes about. He makes them alive for us. That's what makes him great in my eyes. His songs are in a subtle and very efficient way propaganda for humanity.

The Stalin song however is crude, blunt propaganda without any subtelty.

We (in Germany) have a legacy of such songs from the GDR. The "happy worker" songs of the "real" socialism or the anticapitalist propaganda songs always with the socialist morale being directly spoken about in the last verse. These songs are only useful today to make people laugh. Ballad of Stalin is one of the very few MacColl songs that comes for me in that category.

That anyone can have shed a tear about Stalin's death and claims not to have known is just as believable to me as statements from my parents' generation that they hadn't known about Hitler's crimes. It may even be true for some people but they have blinded themselves by only attending to propaganda from one side.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Piers
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:07 AM

Purple Foxx, unless you can show me otherwise I only know of Marx using the term socialist perjoratively when prefaced by terms such as utopian, reactionary or "true". It was Lenin who drove the wedge between socialism and communism, created state capitalism and set back the project for human emancipation by an era, the tosser. Socialism cannot be a nicer kind of capitalism, this is a great misunderstanding, and indicative that not much is known about socialism.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:17 AM

Apologists for MacColl's politics tend to say "he was fooled about Stalin,like everone else"
    Granted, there were a lot of fools about dutifully selling the Daily Worker etc, and very nice humanitarian people most of them were too, and great supporters of folk music, and friends of mine. They were, in Lenin's rather chilling phrase "useful idiots". But for every hundred people being fooled, there was one of the clever people doing the fooling. And MacColl, I am afraid, stunningly eloquent and educated man that he was, was one of the foolers. He knew about Stalin. He made his choice.
    Fascinating piece by Peggy Seeger, wasn't it? Bit rude of her publicly laughing at some poor sod's performance because she thought the accent was a bit funny, wasn't it? MacColl sang in some remarkably dodgy accents (witness his recording of John Henry), but I bet she didn't howl derision at him.
But all in all, I think they were quite right to try to run a club with some high standards that they believed in. As Peggy Seeger pointed out quite fairly,that was the rules for their club, and their club alone. Nobody had to go.. They weren't imposing the same rules on anyone else.Unlike any folk club run by Stalin, for example, when anyone singing Rock Island Line would have been shot.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:18 AM

(On The Communist Manifesto)"We could not have called it a Socialist Manifesto ... Socialism was a Middle-Class movement,Communism a Working-Class Movement.Socialism was,on the Continent at least,respectable;Communism was the very opposite."
Friedrich Engels(1887)
Fred's words,Charlie's rationale.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Paul Burke
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:36 AM

You can't look at things that simplistically. The choice was not entirely Stalin or not-Stalin. It was Stalin or Hitler, then later Stalin or McCarthy.

Remember that the threat of Communism forced western capitalsit society to make huge concessions to the workforce. Even the thirties were less brutal, less raw than the recessions of previous eras- purely because the lower orders had an outside force to which they could threaten to transfer their allegiance. Capitalism operated best (for most people under its control) when it had competition- ironic?

As for people knowing about Stalin... people partly knew, but partly didn't want to believe- after all, there WAS black propoganda, our lords and masters haven't always been totally open about the full facts.

I suppose in a way it's like famine relief- if the churches didn't do it today, probably no one would. Because religion gives people the ability to think in black and white, they can motivate themselves to do what they see as totally virtuous, no need to ask questions. The side issued (why does it NEED to be called "Christian" Aid? Are you pushing an updated version of what the Chinese called "Rice Christianity?)

Similarly, a strong belief like Soviet Communism could give people the ability to act unhindered by second thoughts. The welfare state in Western Europe, the NHS, and the whole tenor of European society today makes me glad that they did.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: shepherdlass
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:52 AM

Among the "useful idiots" there were an awful lot of very clever people (EP Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm et al spring to mind) who were fooled by Stalin at least for a time. And some stayed with the CPGB after Kruschev's denunciation of the old regime ... because they wrongly believed that they could change it from within and create a shiny, new improved revolution in already-industrialized countries that better fitted the Marx-Engels template than poor old Russia. When you've held a dream then disillusion is hard to accept and you might perform all kinds of moral gymnastics to continue believing. (Just look at how many bizarre justifications are trotted out by the religious when a natural disaster calls their faith into question.) Can we really say that, just because some people (like MacColl) were a bit better informed than most, they were therefore complicit in the worst atrocities? Or were they just hanging on for old times' sake and fear of the alternative?


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Piers
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 08:43 AM

Purple Foxx, In that paragraph from the historical preface Fred is talking about the popular reception to the words communism and socialism at different times. Engels himself wrote a book called Socialism:utopian and scientific, advocating the latter against the leagues of religious obscurantists and utopians (blueprint formers) that called themselves socialists.

As I understand it Marx and Engels began to drop the use of the word socialism in their later days for the reasons he describes.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 08:57 AM

Paul,
Christian Aid is not like that.
It does not evangelise. It will help communities build mosques and temples.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Paul Burke
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 09:24 AM

I didn't say it was, and I know it isn't. But "why Christian"? was the point. It's the motivation I'm talking about- Christians know their reward shall be in Heaven.

Communists of the 30s-50s knew that Stalin wasn't the end point of communism, but accepted his function as a step on the way- just as Christians don't think of Constantine or Calvin as defining their aspirations.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: ifor
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 02:24 PM

I can't agree that it was Lenin who drove a wedge between socialism and communism.
Firstly it was Lenin and the Bolshevik Party in Russia that was opposed to the First World War with all its horror and barbarism.
Only a very small of other parties across Europe opposed this war.Think about it.In Britain and in Germany the young Labour Party and the huge Social Democratic Party rushed to support the most reactionary and militaristic warmongers [sounds a bit familiar]
.Lenin was astounded and didnt believe this at first because right up to the outbreak of war the socialists and democrats were opposed to the coming war but collapsed in the face of the war hysteria.
Not Lenin.The situation was so bad that at the socialist called peace conference in Zimmerfeld in Switzerland in 1916 only a couple of dozen delegates managed to turn up to attend.
Within a little over a year Lenin and Trotsky had led the Bolshevik revolution and had pulled Russia out of the war.This had a huge destabilizing effect on Germany and the allies and hastened the end of the conflict which had caused so much death and suffering.

It was Lenin that saved the honour of international socialism and we should remember that today.
When workers and artists like McColl flocked to join the communists it was because of this sort of achievement not the grotesque tyrannies of Stalin who picked up the pieces after the Revolution had been choked and exhausted.
Ifor


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 02:51 PM

There are those (like Greg Stephens) who will continue to vilify MacColl and not let a small thing like lack of evidence get in the way of a good bit of grave dancing. I notice he doesn't say why MacColl should have known the truth about Stalin - very few others did at the time. Was MacColl a party official? Did he have a hot line to the Kremlin? - we need to be told!!! Or maybe all the old socialists and communists were really sado - masochists who not only didn't give a toss about the people of Russia but, by fighting for a communist society were prepared to undergo the same fate.
I really thought that the folk song revival had reached a stage of maturity where it was possible to discuss calmly and intelligently some of the important aspects of our song tradition without our still having to plouter in the mire - there have certainly been enough well balanced and thoughtful contributions to this discussion to indicate that this is the case. But it seems we still have to wait for the sound of grinding axes to die down before we can get round to the important issues - like the songs (remember them?) and how best to ascertain that they don't disappear under a barrage of invective or indifference.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:37 PM

You could hardly avoid hearing what was going on in Russia in the 30's, 40's and 50's, the period we are talking about. there was a continuous stream of refugees getting out.Some people chose to ignore what was going on,` because they thought there was a Higher Good being served in the turmoil.
    I don't find it takes any great leap of the imagination to admire part of someone's life, but not others. My deep admiration's of MacColl's achievements are something I have made very clear throughout a working life in the theatre, directly inspired by McColl's and Littlewood's extraordinary work. But that does not tempt me to act as any kind of apologist for the man's politics. Someone suggests I am "vilfying" him. Nonsense: anybody who worships Stalin after finding out the truth vilifies himself..


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Piers
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:58 PM

Ifor, It's in here. Lenin's work is available on the internet. His philosophy was one of contempt for working people, in theory, and in practice.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: ifor
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 06:17 PM

Reply to Piers
You have attacked Lenin using the website of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.Well they would say that wouldn't they!!

It is a miniscule little sect that claims to be socialist but has done zilch since its foundation over a hundred years ago.

The claim that Lenin had contempt for the workers is also absurd.
For much of his life he lived on the run in contact with workers,seeking their support and their advice.

In power he pulled the new soviet state out of the war and helped to shorten it.I think that is the opposite of contempt.He hated war,injustice and capitalism which in his day was dripping from head to foot in blood [literally].
Lenin gets a bad press from the bosses,the warmongers and the bigots...and I think it was because he was their implacable enemy.

Lenin's Soviet Russia was attacked on all sides by foreign enemies and vicious right wing   czarist armies.It was starved and surrounded and terrible things happened...but perhaps you could tell me why David Lloyd George ordered the British army and navy to invade Russia in 1918...Hadn't he had enough of slaughter??By the way the 18 year old Nye Bevan stood up to and faced down a group of ex servicemen who supported the British attack on Russia.
Rather than attack Lenin we should be looking at the actions of the Labour type parties in western Europe who would not come to the aid of the beleagured revolution ...and Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were among the few honourable exceptions!!
Yes that Lenin was on the side of the workers!
ifor


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Goose Gander
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 06:37 PM

ifor-

Under Lenin's adminstration, a system of prison camps for political prisoners was set up in the Soviet Union. Under Stalin, these camps became the Gulags. To the extent that he was the architect of the camp system, Lenin bears direct responsibility for the millions of deaths that followed in the 1930s.

The whole idea of the 'vanguard party' was that the slavs were too stupid to know what was good for them, so the revolution would have to instigated by intellectuals. If that's not contempt, I don't know what is.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:07 PM

The long and short of it is that a lot of people got very cynical about what their Lords and Masters told them about communism. And by and large the toffs were the folk imparting the information, plus we'd had Orwell's great works urging us to view propaganda urging us to hate the enemy with circumspection.

A hell of a lot of my parents' generation are still like that. Not an entirely bad thing, given the monolithic nature of the Murdoch empire and the politicians whom he has in his pockets like so much loose change.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: woodsie
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 10:04 PM

The man was a plonker.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: melodeon king
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 10:11 PM

I agree

Anybody who pretends to be scotch is a plonker.

I hate people who force their crap politics on you.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 11:10 PM

Under capitalism, people exploit people.

With communism, it's just the reverse.

MacColl was a fine singer who did a mountain of good work. I am glad I got to hear him and Peggy that one time in Chicago -- 1970.

Art


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 11:31 PM

Words cannot describe how much I hate that plastic scotch dead thing.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 03:55 AM

Dear GUEST - let me guess, you don't hate MacColl and his memory because of his politics or his Scottishness. You really hate him because he didn't endorse your particular musical tastes. Let me push my neck out a bit further and speculate that you belong to the 'anything goes' school of 'folk music' - a school whose basic project is to colonise folk with rock music. Am I getting close?


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 04:01 AM

Melodeon King - the word is Scots - if you don't like Scotch, drink brandy (don't understand the plastic - dead bit, perhaps you might like to try harder and describe it!!!!). Do you, for instance, find those who pretend to be American when they sing just as hateful?
(Jeeze - I find that strange Mid-Atlantic accent more than a little off-putting too!)
There is one name left out of all this of course - Bert lloyd. Bert's politics were similar to MacColl's and would be described as Stalinist, though he was far less open than Ewan was about his beliefs. He was (I'm pretty sure) chairman of the Anglo-Albaninan Friendship Society and a regular visitor to Central and Eastern European countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania. His activities would have guaranteed him a file in the MI5 archives. I await with interest to see if the publicising of that file generates the same degree of venom as this one.
The early musical choices of Topic Records would almost certainly have earned themselves a place in the shelves - Soviet Airmen's Song, Song of Poland, Chi Li, Song of The Partisan, Kevin Barry (et al) - even down to the pro IRA LP 'Easter Week And After' (Dominic Behan never pretended which side he was on).
I never cease to be amazed how disputes such as this one sort out the pygmies from the giants. On the one hand you have those who will credit a person for all of his contribution to our knowledge and enjoyment of traditional song. On the other there are those who continue to judge him on the basis of what he believed more than half a century ago and will use this to denigrate his work.
I have to say that I find this rush to join the Stella Rimmington School of Grave-Dancing more than a little distasteful.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 04:06 AM

PS
Melodeon King,
I notice from another thread that you recommend singing the songs of Bob Dylan - a assume you are addressing this only to Americans.
Do you sing Dylan songs - are you an American - we need to know!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Wolfgang
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 04:24 AM

I don't find it takes any great leap of the imagination to admire part of someone's life, but not others. My deep admiration's of MacColl's achievements are something I have made very clear throughout a working life in the theatre, directly inspired by McColl's and Littlewood's extraordinary work. But that does not tempt me to act as any kind of apologist for the man's politics. (Greg Stephens)

On the one hand you have those who will credit a person for all of his contribution to our knowledge and enjoyment of traditional song. On the other there are those who continue to judge him on the basis of what he believed more than half a century ago and will use this to denigrate his work. (J C)

But still the leap's too great for some.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Piers
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 04:38 AM

Ifor, perhaps Lenin did have good intentions but they were betrayed by his elitism. He was clearly wrong to say that "the working class, exclusively by its own efforts, is able to develop only trade union consciousness", you and I are living proof of that. The principle of leadership is opposed to the socialist principle of actual democracy. There can be no leaders and followers in socialism.

Lenin's idea that "socialism is merely state-capitalist monopoly which is made to serve the interests of the whole people and has to that extent ceased to be capitalist monopoly" is clearly flawed and history proved it so.

The only way we are going to get socialism/communism (common ownership, direct democracy and free access) is by making socialists. The SPGB may be small but for over a hundred years we have only been solely concerned with building a movement of socialists for socialism and have done so by producing journals, cds, dvds, pamphlets, books, giving talks, standing in elections, holding meetings, debates and discussions. Other so-called socialist parties have presented a programme of policies to patch up capitalism, supported the murder of workers, collaborated with islamofascists, obscurantists and all kinds of capitalist parties, lied, deceived and done more to discredit socialism than advance it.

State capitalism and labour parties and are all dead and good riddance. Building socialism can now proceed with less hinderence from those labouring (pun intended) under the fallacy that capitalism can somehow work in their interests with a few tweaks here and there.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 05:01 AM

The simple truth is that "power corrupts"!
Many a good project has been derailed because the leaders thirsted for wealth and power at the expense of those that they were entrusted to fairly represent.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 06:23 AM

PPS
By the way – Lenin didn't invent the gulags – they were well established in Tolstoy's time in the 19th century when he wrote Resurrection.
Trotsky was exiled to one in 1898 and escaped in 1902


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,G.p
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 12:47 PM

Interesting thread, but I haven't got time to read it all at the moment.

Two thoughts; has anybody ever noticed how many people. Do try to pretend they are Scottish or Irish ? I think it's flattering .( In our family we say : many were called, few were chosen!) I'll tell you what though, true Scots ( like me ) have got an accent that leaves no doubt as to where you are from.

I would find it interesting to see which other "folkies" were being watched. I know that Hamish Imlach was under surveillance, yet amongst the folkies he was almost a Tory !

Is there any way of finding out, I wonder ? My interest is personal; we grew up firmly believing that our dad ( a folk singer ) was being watched, and the phone was tapped. He was great, though ! If I was in MI5 I would have watched him too !


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: ifor
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 01:01 PM

Piers
Lenin was no elitist.He worked for years to build the party whether in factory branches or in towns and cities.And who were the members?They were the most determined class conscious socialists and militants around.And it was not an easy thing to be in a czarist Russia with secret agents everywhere and a population which often appeared cowed after the failure of the 1905 revolutionary uprising.
ifor


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Piers
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 01:29 PM

He worked for years to build the party which came to power by coup, used military force against rebels and established a secret police force - he was no socialist.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 01:40 PM

not like that nowadays eh - folksingers getting mbe's!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: ifor
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:34 PM

came to power by coup. ??...
The Romanovs had presided over 20 million Russian war dead.Tsarism evaporated because it was rotten to the core.When the Revolution broke out Lenin was still in exile.The Russian workers had had enough of the slaughter and starvation and took to the streets with the slogans "Down With The Autocracy!,Down With The War and We Want Bread!"
The Bolsheviks echoed their volcanic discontent with the demands for an end to the war,the redistribution of land and workers control of the factories.This is what the workers wanted-and they gave the October Revolution mass support when others wanted to continue with the war and bring back the old generals who were thirsting for blood.

It is said that more people died during the making of a film by Eisenstein about the October Revolution than during the actual revolution itself.

Used military force against rebels??.....
The Red Army was created to defend the precarious revolution against a bunch of bloodthirsty reactionary anti semitic generals who specialised in torture ,massacre and rape.If they had succeeded the word fascism would have been Russian in origin. Add into the mix the dozen or so western imperial armies and expeditionary forces and you can see why the Revolution needed to defend itself.Trotsky who led the Red Army had no military training and had spent much of the war years living in the slums of New York's Lower East Side.He was a writer,journalist and political agitator and yet his Red Army defeated all that could be thrown against it...Ifor


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: ifor
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:40 PM

Try reading Ten Days That Shook The World by the American writer John Reed for an eye witness account of the Revolution.
ifor


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Piers
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 05:24 PM

Ifor, what exactly has all this got to do with socialism?

Trotsky wasn't sending in troops to kill bloodthirsty reactionary anti-semitic generals who specialised in torture, massacre and rape at Kronstadt. He sent workers to kill workers who were rebelling against the bolshevik government.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 05:34 PM

As Ifor correctly points out, far more people died after the revoltion than during it. The so-called "Russian revolution" of 1917 was a small coup in St Petersburg/ Petrograd/Leningrad/St Petersburg, that toppled the semi-liberal/bourgoeois Kerensky regime(which had been vaguely voted into power by a not-excessively-democratic democratic process after the czar had been de-powered). After this Leninist(Trotsky and Stalin were also around) coup, the Bolsheviks started consolidating, and seriously started killing their opponents, sometimes with the simple bullet to the head or starving in camps, sometimes in more imaginatively amusing ways. This continued, with steadily escalating and more revolting intensity, as Trotsky's army, and then Stalin's regime, took over(with others fighting back, with matching or exceeding ferocity). Hardly surprisingly, this system is still having difficulty evolving into anything very conducive to a peaceful life for the working-class citizens of Russia, even 79 years later.
Ifor is absolutely right, the revolution was nothing. What came after was the real business. And Ewan M thought it was bloody wonderful. Most people who sit back and take a long hard look would think it was just bloody revolting.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,melodeon thing
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 07:33 PM

Singing in a mid atlantic accent hardly equates to changing your name to a scotch one, being a miserable git, pretending to be working class and being a total wanker!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 08:26 PM

a scotch name...?

Glen Livet
Red Label
Johnny Walker
Talis Kerr

as for Ewan - let's leave it that some of you weren't keen on the bloke. However, some of us thought he was quite nice.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Barry Finn
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 01:16 AM

I believe that MI5 just like our FBI did & does as all nations do. Spy on their own. Those that disagree & make noise will come to their governments attention & will be watched & seen as a threat. It is usually the arts & their artists that will suffer first & foremost for when they speak through their medium they speak for their people, and their people listen. As for Ewan he spoke often & loud, no matter what your beliefs are he sang, spoke, wrote & acted on behalf of his people, working people. His heart was always with the working people.

I met Ewan & Peggy once, in the late 70's in LA at a house & was introduced to them because I had come the farthest distance to see them. Actually I was driving cross country, from Boston heading for San Francisco. They were warm, inviting & very friendly. Ewan & I talked mostly about unions. What came through mostly was his love & respect of the working class & his disdain of anyone or thing that ment to exploit or harm them. I don't know what kind of ideology that might be called but it workd for me before that, then & still does.

I love alot of great songwriters (not that there are that many greats like him), even if they write a piece of shit once & awhile.

Barry


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 02:56 AM

100!


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