Progressive Calendar 04.05.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 5 Apr 2008 17:17:38 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    04.05.08

1. Stillwater vigil 4.06 1pm
2. Czech festival   4.06 2pm
3. NE debates?      4.06 4pm
4. Feminine spirit  4.06 5pm
5. AIPAC exposed    4.06 6pm
6. Morocco/film     4.06 7pm

7. Capitalism/Marx  4.07 9:30am
8. LGBT health      4.07 11am
9. Islam/justice    4.07 12noon
10. Guatemala       4.07 4pm
11. Peace walk      4.07 6pm River Falls WI
12. Community blog  4.07 7pm

13. Johah Raskin - The Iron Heel at 100/ Jack London

--------1 of 13--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 4.06 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------2 of 13--------

From: Andrew Hine <amhine2 [at]>
Subject: Czech festival 4.06 2pm

This Sunday, April 6, 2-7 pm
Michigan, at Western & W 7th

A Czech extravaganza of Slovak proportions.
Rarely seen historic artifacts on display.
Theatrics, vocalizations, musicianship, spoken words, operatics,
gastronomics, zymurgics. (not necessarily in that order)
$25, tax-free.

--------3 of 13--------

From: Tom Dunnwald <tom [at]>
Subject: NE debates? 4.06 4pm
Re: Progressive Calendar  04.03.08

Got arguments? We're talking about setting a NE Mpls debate series.
Looking for topics, ideas and old school debaters. Stop by 4 p.m. at the 331
Bar, 13th and University Av., lovely NE Mpls. Tom 612-245-9048 questions.

--------4 of 13--------

From: Susu Jeffrey <susujeffrey [at]>
Subject: Feminine spirit 4.06 5pm

A Celebration of the Feminine Spirit
Sunday, April 6, 2008
5-9 PM
St. Joan of Arc Church
4537 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis (1 block east of I-35, note the 46th
Street exit is closed)
Sara Thomsen (with Body Prayers), McDonald Sisters, Molly Culligan, Susu
Jeffrey, Maureen Skelly, and more
Music, Poetry, Dance, Visual Arts and Refreshments
Sliding scale donations of $5-$10 requested

--------5 of 13--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: AIPAC exposed 4.06 6pm

Demonstrate Against the Powerful Zionist Lobby: AIPAC Exposed!
Sunday, April 6, 6:00 p.m. Marriott Minneapolis West, 9960 Wayzata
Boulevard, St. Louis Park.

"The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbies both the
Democrats and Republicans to unconditionally support Israel with more
military aid which is used against Palestinians and causes death and
destruction to the people. AIPAC is seen as one of the most powerful
lobbies in Washington, D.C. and politicians of both parties are more
concerned about gaining AIPAC's approval than justice for Palestine. Say
no to U.S. military aid to Israel! Free Palestine! This demonstration will
also commemorate Deir Yassin (Land Day) and kick off this spring's Al
Nakba events." Organized by: the Coalition for Palestinian Rights.

From: Jordan S. Kushner <kushn002 [at]>

At the expense of justice, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), one of the most powerful special interest groups in Washington,
lobbies Democrats and Republicans for unconditional support and military
aid for Israel. It's time to say "No!" to unconditional U.S. aid to Israel
and say "Yes!" to the rights and justice for Palestinians. This
demonstration will also commemorate the massacre at Deir Yassin and kick
off this spring's al-Nakba ("the Catastrophe") events.

Bring cameras/video-cameras, etc. to document who is lying down at the
feet of this Zionist lobby. Organized by the Coalition for Palestinian
Rights (CPR) and endorsed by the Anti-War Committee.

CPR members; Al-Aqsa foundation;American Arab Anti Discrimation Com-Mn:
Arab Commuity Center: Jews Against the Occupation:Middle East Peace Now,
National Lawyers Guild,WAMM:WILPF for info call; 612-437-0222

--------6 of 13--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Morocco/film 4.06 7pm

Documentary: "Dreaming in Morocco"
Sunday, April 6, 7:00 p.m. Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street, St. Paul.

"Are all young people in Morocco anti-American and in line to join Al
Qaida so they can terrorize non-Muslims the world over?  Some media and
government pundits would have us believe so. But most young Moroccans are
dreaming about finding a job - any job, anywhere - and that includes in
America. They chat online, love hip-hop, and watch American movies. Or
America is not even on their radar screen. I interviewed Moroccans aged
18-30 from different parts of the country about their daily lives, dreams
and views of Americans, and found surprises and contradictions and a lot
of inspiring people. This film is intended to break some of the
stereotypes Americans have of Arab and Muslim youth (when they think about
them at all) through many interviews and through footage of life in
Morocco today, from the soccer derby of Casablanca to cybercafes in the
old medinas." --Pamela Nice

--------7 of 13--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Capitalism/Marx 4.07 9:30am

Monday, April 7: American Association of University Women Minneapolis
Chapter. 9:30 AM: Shocks & Challenges to the Capitalist Model in the New
World Economy. 10:45 AM: Karl Marx & the Quest for Social Justice with
Dr. Erwin Marquit. Noon: Lunch. 1:15 PM: The Scholars Walk at the
University of Minnesota: More Than a Concrete Link. [where??? UofM?]

--------8 of 13--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: LGBT health 4.07 11am

National LGBT Health Awareness Week April 6-12
Press Conference and Panel Discussion
the University of MN Medical School
Monday, April 7th @ 11am

Presented by the Rainbow Health Initiative
Collaborating Agencies for this event include: University of Minnesota
GLBTA Programs Office, Queer Student Cultural Center, GLBT Medical
Student group at the University of MN, Minnesota Department of Health,
and Outfront MN

A press conference and panel discussion on LGBT health disparities;
Problems, Consequences, Contributing Factors, and Solutions

Monday, April 7, 2008
Press Conference at 11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Speakers: Minneapolis City Councilmember Gary Schiff, Dr. Simon Rosser,
and Dr. Eric Meininger
Panel Discussion at 12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. (Lunch available!)
Speakers: Dr. Simon Rosser, Dr. Eric Meininger, Dr. Sam Willis, Dr.
Angela Kade Goepferd, Jim Stoltz, Leah Hebert, and respected community
members. Councilmember Schiff will moderate the discussion.

Moos Tower at the University of MN
(For a map, see:
Press conference in front of Moos Tower  (on Washington Ave. side)
Panel discussion Moos Tower 2-650

-- In 2004, the MN Health Access Survey indicated that 22% of LGBT
Minnesotans do not have health insurance, compared with 7.4 of the total
state population.

-- Research has indicated that fear of discrimination and stigma cause
many GLBT individuals to postpone or decline seeking medical care. Others,
once in care, sometimes withhold from their providers personal information
which may be critical to their well-being.

-- Eliminating barriers to care requires both an educated and empowered
consumer base and a skilled, culturally competent, sensitive and welcoming
provider community that is openly supportive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender people and their families

For more information on this event, contact [at]
< [at]> or call the Rainbow Health
Initiative at (877)499-7744

For more information about National LGBT Health Awareness week, go to <>*

--------9 of 13--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Islam/justice 4.07 12noon

Monday, 4/7, noon to 1:30 pm, Islamic Center of Minnesota sponsors a
discussion on Concept of Justice in Three Religions (Muslim, Christian,
Jewish), Islamic Center of MN, 1401 Gardena Ave NE, Fridley.

--------10 of 13--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Guatemala 4.07 4pm

Monday, 4/7, 4 to 5:30 pm, Duke university prof Diane Nelson talks about
"Who Counts?  Reckoning the Aftermath of War in Guatemala," room 35 of the
HH Humphrey Center, 301 - 19th Ave S, Mpls.

--------11 of 13--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 4.07 6pm River Falls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at]

Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022

--------12 of 13--------

From: Jonathan Barrentine <jonathan [at]>
Subject: Community blog 4.07 7pm

WORKSHOP: Creating a Community Blog
Our next workshop will focus on Blogs and Blogging. This workshop will
introduce participants to blogs and their uses, as well as RSS and the
more technical aspects of running a blog. If you've ever been curious
about blogs, if you're familiar with the basics and want to learn a little
more, or if you have no idea what a blog is, then come to Rondo Library
this Monday to have your questions answered.

Blogs and Blogging

Monday, April 7th
7:00 - 8:30 PM
Rondo Community Outreach Library
461 North Dale
University & Dale, St. Paul

As always, the workshop is free, all are welcome to attend, and no
registration is needed.

Full workshop schedule available online:
Contact sped-outreach [at] with questions.

--------13 of 13--------

The Iron Heel at 100
Jack London - The Artist as "Antenna of the Race"
by Johah Raskin
Monthly Review

Bad times inhibit good writers, but they also inspire them. Just look at
the new and recent arrivals in bookstores and libraries. The
double-barreled assault on civil liberties and human rights, by the
administration of President George Walker Bush, has, if nothing else,
spurred an outpouring of books, both fiction and nonfiction, condemning
the erosion of American democracy and the perceived drift toward
totalitarianism. Jack London - the best-selling twentieth-century American
author, who was born in 1876, the year of the American Centenary, and who
died in 1916, the year before the United States entered the First World
War - would surely not be surprised. In fact, one might well anoint London
the founding father of the contemporary body of literature about political
repression, including Henry Giroux's The Emerging Authoritarianism in the
United States, Matthew Rothschild's You Have No Rights, Chris Hedges's
American Fascists, Robert Kennedy Jr'.s Crimes Against Nature, and Philip
Roth's disquieting 2003 novel The Plot Against America. Of course, there
are many others that cover much the same terrain.

Sinclair Lewis, who wrote the electrifying classic It Can't Happen Here
(1935) - about the advent of a Nazi regime in Washington, D.C. - owed much
of his inspiration to London's The Iron Heel, which was first published in
1908, and which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. London's
dystopian novel also inspired George Orwell when he wrote 1984, and it
deserves recognition as the first modern American novel to sound the alarm
about the dangers of a dictatorship in the United States. The Iron Heel
has never achieved the popularity of London's dog stories - The Call of
the Wild and White Fang - but from the moment that Europe began to drift
toward fascism in the 1920s, and then throughout the twentieth century, it
was widely read in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, and hailed as a great,
prophetic work of art by the likes of Leon Trotsky, the exiled Russian
revolutionary, and Anatole France, the Nobel Prize-winning French

One hundred years after its initial publication, London's political ideas
and cultural insights seem remarkably contemporary. Indeed, in The Iron
Heel, he describes a sinister conspiracy, by an oligarchy, to quash
freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, imprison its outspoken
opponents and critics, control news and information, install a
professional army of paid mercenaries, create a secret police force, and
wage global warfare for economic hegemony. There's also guerrilla warfare,
furious acts of wanton terrorism, and cold-blooded terrorists - a world
roiling in violence that might be taken for the world of the twenty-first
century. Here's a book that demonstrates the veracity of Ezra Pound's
remark that "the artist is the antenna of the race".

Like much overtly political fiction and didactic storytelling, The Iron
Heel tends to emphasize ideas and ideological concerns at the expense of
character development and plot, but London, the artist, could not help but
craft a story with suspense, drama, and bigger-than-life, cinematic scenes
that depict bloody warfare and horrific massacre in the streets of the
United States. In the handwritten notes for the novel that he originally
entitled "Oligarchy," he scrawled, "What scenes are given let them be
striking to make up for absence of regular novel features," and he made
good on that admonition to himself. The change in the title of the novel,
from "Oligarchy" to The Iron Heel, shows London moving away from an idea
to a compelling and vivid image that enlivens his story.

An early, ardent fan of the movies, and a frequent moviegoer, he cast The
Iron Heel as a kind of Cecil B. De Mille epic in which the revolutionary
troops engage in battle with the soldiers of the oligarchy, using airships
and machine guns. The spectacle in the streets of Chicago, where the novel
peaks in an exhilarating chapter entitled "The People of the Abyss," is
written with real panache and gusto. Moreover, it was a stroke of genius,
on London's part, to couch his novel in the form of a memoir that
chronicles not only the larger political and cultural conflicts, but also
the personal life of the narrator and memoirist herself, a young woman
named Avis Everhard who grows up privileged in Berkeley, California, falls
in love with Ernest Everhard, the leader of the revolution, and joins the
clandestine rebels who use forged documents and change their identities to
evade the secret police. (Ernest Everhard is not much of a character; he
is too idealized and romanticized and his name - which implies a kind of
permanent sexual potency - does not help either.)

The novel itself might be aptly described as a "false document," to borrow
the incisive literary term coined by the novelist and critic E. L.
Doctorow - himself an author of false documents - to describe a work of
fiction that purports to be factual. London's brilliant literary conceit,
if you will, is that Avis Everhard's memoir of love and loss, failed
revolution, and ascendant tyranny, is discovered hundreds of years after
its creation, and published, with footnotes by the editor and with a
forword, too, for readers near the end of the twenty-seventh century. "It
cannot be said that the Everhard Manuscript is an important historical
document," Anthony Meredith, the editor of the future, explains in
London's tongue-in-cheek foreword. Meredith goes on to say that the
Everhard Manuscript is especially valuable "in communicating to us the
feel of those terrible times. Nowhere do we find more vividly portrayed
the psychology of the person that lived in that turbulent period embraced
between the years 1912 and 1932 - their mistakes and ignorance, their
doubts and fears and misapprehensions, their ethical delusions, their
violent passions, their inconceivable sordidness and selfishness".

The playful, and sometimes trenchant, footnotes to the text were, of
course, written by London himself, and enabled him to offer a gloss on the
narrative, and provide a running commentary on nineteenth-century history,
economics, and philosophy, and its leading political and philosophical
thinkers. Thus, he writes that Nietzsche "reasoned himself around the
great circle of human thought and off into madness," and that there was
"no more horrible page in history than the treatment of the child and
women slaves in the English factories". On the subject of "politics and
the English language," which would become dear to George Orwell, London
noted, "the people of that age were phrase slaves....So befuddled and
chaotic were their minds that the utterance of a single word could negate
the generalizations of a lifetime of serious research and thought. Such a
word was the adjective utopian".

A writer who was not afraid to join political debate, and to engage in
political activities, London knew what he was talking about when he talked
about language and politics. A utopian himself, he joined the Socialist
Labor Party in 1896, and then the American Socialist Party, after it was
founded in 1901, and he continued to be a member until just months before
his death. Though he never took part directly in shaping the goals or the
platform of the Socialist Party, and though he did not attend party
meetings with any regularity, he played a major role as a "propagandist"
- a word he used to label himself and that he wore proudly - for
socialism.  For a brief time, in 1904 and 1905, he espoused violent
revolution and even assassination as a tactic, but for the most part he
believed in peaceful change and electoral politics.

Twice he ran for mayor of Oakland as a socialist, and almost all his life
he wrote personal essays about socialism, including "Revolution" and "How
I Became a Socialist," as well as tales and fables with overtly political
messages, like "The Dream of Debs," and short stories like "The Apostate"
that depict the horrors of poverty and the mindlessness of factory toil.
As he explained in his writings, and in dozens of speeches that he gave to
enthusiastic audiences across the country, socialism meant both political
and economic democracy. In his view, it translated into equality of
opportunity, the end of child labor, the eight-hour day, decent housing,
and beautiful things, in the style of William Morris and the
Pre-Raphaelites, as well as material goods that would improve the lives of

London studied Marx's writings extensively and was profoundly influenced
by The Communist Manifesto. Like Marx, he tended to be hopeful about the
future for humanity, but he did not allow his hopefulness to cloud his
view of the present, or ignore the obstacles in the way of
revolutionaries. "I should like to have socialism," he wrote. "Yet I know
that socialism is not the next step; I know that capitalism must have its
life first".

Part of him believed that an ideal version of socialism might be achieved
in his own lifetime. But another part of him firmly believed that
barbarism and tyranny lay ahead for humanity - that a gigantic "iron heel"
would descend on individuals and quash freedom. He first articulated the
notion that dictatorship, not democracy, would engulf humankind in an
essay entitled "The Question of the Maximum" that he wrote in 1898, that
no magazine editor would publish - it seemed too subversive for the
cautious-minded - and that London included in his first collection of
political essays, War of the Classes (1905). He divagated for years
between optimism and pessimism about the future and yet he remained
largely ebullient about the prospects for socialism until 1905, the year
that a revolution in Russia was crushed by the Czar's army and by thugs
and police, and when the "iron heel" became far more than just a figure of
speech. As Leon Trotsky observed in his insightful comments about the
novel, "The Iron Heel bears the undoubted imprint of the year 1905". It
also bears the imprint of the year 1906, when an earthquake shook San
Francisco and fire destroyed that city. London, as an eyewitness reporter
for Collier's magazine, saw the arrival in California of what looked like
the apocalypse.

To write The Iron Heel he drew on his own direct observations of the chaos
in San Francisco that followed in the wake of the earthquake and
conflagration, and also on the information that he absorbed from far-off
Russia from friends and from newspapers about the repression of the 1905
revolution. He drew, too, on his close study of contemporary U.S. society:
the spying on, and the intimidation of, labor leaders by the Pinkerton
Detective Agency employed by mine owners and governors alike; the arrest
and persecution of labor leaders, like William (Big Bill) Haywood, one of
the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World (the radical trade
union activists better known as the "Wobblies") who went on trial in 1906,
in what was regarded, at the time, as the pivotal political courtroom
battle of the era. Indeed, everything that London assigned to the society
of the future, he discerned right before his own eyes, in the society of
the present, though he magnified the trends and the patterns for dramatic

London took the measure of global capitalism, and carefully monitored the
impact of imperialist penetration on colonial societies. In The Iron Heel
he mentions the cruelty of the African slave trade, and the exploitation
and decadence of the British Empire in India. "The natives died of
starvation by the millions," he wrote, "while their rulers robbed them of
the fruit of their toil and expended it on magnificent pageants and
mumbo-jumbo fooleries".

He called H. G. Wells, whose novels he read and enjoyed - including The
of the Worlds (1898)"a 'sociological seer'" and to write The Iron Heel he
took on that persona himself. But if he was a prophetic writer, and a
visionary, he was also a thoroughgoing romantic. His editors in New York
often demanded that he write love stories for middle-class women readers,
and, in part, he gave them what they wanted. In The Iron Heel, he
presented the sentimental love story between Avis and Ernest Everhard
against a backdrop of revolution and war, doom and disaster, hoping that
the love story might persuade apolitical readers to venture into the
labyrinth of his intensely political fiction. In the end, he seems to have
satisfied no one; the socialists of his day, certain that socialism would
triumph at the next general election, regarded his book as heresy and
condemned it, while women readers looking for escape from quotidian life
found it too polemical, ideological, and shockingly violent.

Before it was published, London predicted its fate. "It will not make me
any friends," he told Cloudesley Johns, one of his best friends, and a
fellow socialist who shared his dreams for the future. It was not until
the coming of the First World War that it began to attract readers and to
win London admiration for his prescience. Indeed, only when socialists in
France went to war against their socialist brothers in Germany, and when
the rallying cry of "international solidarity" fell on deaf ears, did The
Iron Heel attract an international following. The rise of Hitler and
Mussolini solidified London's reputation as a "sociological seer". In
Trotsky's eyes he was a genuine "revolutionary artist," and far more
perceptive than either Rosa Luxemburg, the early twentieth-century German
revolutionary, or V. I. Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution of
1917, who admired London and seems to have borrowed the phrase "the
aristocracy of labor" from The Iron Heel to describe that sector of the
working class that had lost its working-class consciousness and sided with
capital.  In the 1960s, The Iron Heel experienced another resurgence;
Vietnamese as well as Americans read it as a text on the evils of
imperialism. It has never gone out of print, but London scholars often
ignore it. The Viking Portable Jack London contains no excerpt from the
novel, and that omission distorts the picture of Jack London as a writer.

Now, on its 100th anniversary, it strikes yet another raw nerve - the
nerve of terrorism and its foes, along with the rise of religious
fundamentalism and fanaticism. In the last chapter of the novel, which is
entitled "The Terrorists," London explains that massacres are commonplace,
martyrs all-pervasive, and mass executions routine. "The members of the
terroristic organizations were careless of their own lives," he writes. A
"religious sect" that calls itself "the Wrath of God" holds sway, while an
organization called "the Valkyries" is "guilty of torturing their
prisoners to death". London couldn't be more contemporary. It is also
fitting that the novel ends with an incomplete last sentence that leaves
readers in a state of suspense, and that also suggests the unfinished
historical process itself. "The magnitude of the task may be understood
when it is taken into" - that is Avis Everhard's last, incomplete thought.
She did not even have time for ellipses or a dash. A footnote at the
bottom of the printed page explains, "This is the end of the Everhard
Manuscript...It is to be regretted that she did not live to complete her

London lived another eight years after the publication of The Iron Heel,
which was in many ways his swan song to socialism. Even as he wrote it, he
began to settle on a large ranch he bought in rural Northern California.
Increasingly, he defined himself as a Californian, not as a socialist, and
at Beauty Ranch as he called it - the Russian-born anarchist Emma Goldman
called it ".Dreamland" - he tried to build a private, agrarian utopia for
himself, his wife Charmian, and a small circle of their closest friends.
Like Avis, the heroine of The Iron Heel, London died with unfinished work
on his desk, including the novel entitled Cherry, and the intriguing
outline for a socialist autobiography in which he promised to explain his
own romance and disillusionment with revolution.

Still, he bequeathed a rich, if ambiguous, legacy for American writers to
follow, and the dystopian novels of Sinclair Lewis and Philip Roth take up
where he left off. London wrote no major political novel after The Iron
Heel, but he did not cease to serve as the "antenna of the race". In The
Scarlet Plague (1915), one of his last books, he anticipated the arrival
of AIDS and HIV, and predicted a pandemic that would sweep across the
world and decimate the human race.  Surely a novelist with that much
imagination and prescience deserves more attention from literary scholars
than he has so far received.

All material  copyright 1949-2008 Monthly Review


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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