An article about the blossoming youth cult: skinheads, and what the hippies made of them, from Black Dwarf, Vol 14, number 21, 30 August, 1969.
Alex Glasgow (1935-2001) was a Geordie singer/songwriter. He also wrote the songs and music for the successful musical plays Close the Coal House Door and On Your Way, Riley! by Alan Plater, and scripts for the TV drama When the Boat Comes In, the theme song of which he sang.
The Socialist ABC
When that I was and a little, tiny boy,
Me daddy said to me,
‘The time has come, me bonny, bonny bairn,
To learn your ABC.’
Now Daddy was a lodge chairman
In the coalfields of the time
And his ABC was different
From the Enid Blighton kind.
He sang, ‘A is for Alienation
That made me the man that I am, and
B’s for the Boss who’s a Bastard,
A Bourgeois who don’t give a damn.
C is for Capitalism,
The bosses’ reactionary creed, and
D’s for Dictatorship, laddie,
But the best proletarian breed.
E is for Exploitation
That workers have suffered so long, and
F is for old Ludwig Feuerbach,
The first one to say it was wrong.
G is all Gerrymanderers,
Like Lord Muck and Sir Whatsisname, and
H is the Hell that they’ll go to
When the workers have kindled the flame.
I’s for Imperialism,
And America’s kind is the worst, and
J is for sweet Jingoism,
That the Tories all think of the first.
K is for good old Kier Hardy,
Who fought out the working class fight, and
L is for Vladimir Lenin,
Who showed him the left was all right.
M is of course for Karl Marx,
The daddy and the mommy of them all, and
N is for Nationalisation –
Without it we’d tumble and fall.
O is for Overproduction,
That capitalist economy brings, and
P is for all Private Property,
The greatest of all of the sins.
Q’s for the Quid pro quo,
That we’ll deal out so well and so soon, when
R for Revolution is shouted and
The Red Flag becomes the top tune.
S is for Sad Stalinism
That gave us all such a bad name, and
T is for Trotsky, the hero,
Who had to take all of the blame.
U’s for the Union of Workers –
The Union will stand to the end, and
V is for Vodka, yes, Vodka,
The vun drink that vont bring the bends.
W’s for all Willing Workers,
And that’s where the memory fades,
For X, Y, and Zed,’ my dear daddy said,
‘Will be written on the street barricades.’
Now that I’m not a little tiny boy,
Me daddy says to me,
‘Please try to forget those thing that I said,
Especially the ABC.’
For daddy is no longer a union man,
And he’s had to change his plea.
His alphabet is different now,
Since they made him a Labour MP.
This poem comes from Vol 1, issue 9 of Emma Goldman’s magazine Mother Earth. The magazine ran from 1906 to 1917. From 1907 to 1915 Alexander Berkman was the editor.
Over the years essays and poems from the likes of Voltairine de Cleyre, Maxim Gorky, Rudolf Rocker, Martha Gruening, Errico Malatesta, Lola Ridge and many more.
By Christopher Caustic
I hate your hypocritic race,
Who prate about pretended grace;
With tabernacle phizzes,
Who think Oninipotence to charm,
By faces longer than my arm!
O, what a set of quizzes!
I hate your wretches, wild and sad,
like gloomy nights in Bedlam mad,
Or vile Old Bailey* culprits;
Who, with a sacrilegious zeal,
Death and damnation dare to deal
From barn-erected pulpits.
I hate that hangman’s aspect bluff,
In him, whose disposition’s rough,
The porcupine surpasses;
Who thinks that heaven is in his power,
Because his sullen looks might sour
A barrel of molasses.
* English Insane Asylum and Prison.
Edith Nesbit, author of, among others, The Railway Children, had poetry published in anarchist magazine Freedom. She was a follower of William Morris, one of the founders of the Fabian Society, and a friend of Peter Kropotkin and Eleanor Marx. This poem from Freedom, 1888.
All in All
WHEN all the night is horrible with clamour
Of voiceless curses darker than the night,
When light of sun there is not, neither starshine,
Nor any beacon on the hill of Right,
Shine, O thou Light of Life, upon our pathway—
Freedom, be thou our light!
Since all life’s ways are difficult and dreary,
And false steps echo through eternity,
And there is naught to lean on as we journey
By paths not smooth as downward paths would be,
We have no other help—we need no other;
Freedom, we lean on thee!
The slave’s base murmur and the threats of tyrants,
The voice of cowards who cringe and cry ‘Retreat,’
The whisper of the world, ‘Come where power calls thee!’
The whisper of the flesh, ‘Let life be sweet.’
Since all these with thy divine commanding;
Guide thou thy children’s feet!
For thee, for thee we bear the cross, the banner,
For thee are all our battles fought and won;
For thee was every prayer we ever uttered,
For thee has every deed of ours been done;
To thee we press—to thee, triumphant splendour,
O Freedom, lead us on!
Where thou shalt lead we do not fear to follow.
Thou hast our hearts; we follow them in thee.
Spirit of Light, whatever thou shalt show us,
Strong in the faith, we shall not fear to see;
We reach to thee through all the waves of darkness
Of all the days to be.
A poet in support of the miner’s strike, from the NUM anthology Against All The Odds, 1984 that was sold to raise funds for the strike.
Lines For Striking Miners
I am not a miner.
Only a poet of black ink
With a few pounds to spare,
Enough for paper, envelopes,
A pint of two with my mates.
But I have also descended
Into earth’s black bowels –
The depths of painful thoughts.
I too know lack of light,
But instead of coal I hew
Lines in black ink, lines
To invoke a passionate act
In men unused to to feel
The passion of a poet’s pen.
I too know saboteurs, scabs,
Of the mind and emotions.
I reject opportunism,
Which sacrifices tomorrow
For today’s few paltry pounds.
And so I support them,
The striking miners, intent
On tomorrow’s bread, justice
Fidelity to principle.
For the poet too is a worker,
His lines hewn out with pain.
The use of the mind’s muscles,
Inducing black moods, fatigues,
Some joy also in use,
Supported by the unpraised will.