Saturday, May 02, 2009

Pete Seeger, lovely old communist

A session with Seeger

Imagine if you will, that Pete Seeger were an ageing Nazi, whose songs eulagised Hitler and the delights of the Nazi philosophy and way of life.

'Affection for Pete was not always so widespread.

In the 1950s he was blacklisted for his former membership of the Communist Party, and his performing career seemed all but over.'

You can hear the implied tutting from hundreds of miles away. Oh, and by the way, the word 'former' in that sentance is a lie. There is nothing 'former' about his membership. It is very current.

'Typically, he refused to go away. In 1955 he declined to co-operate with the Un-American Activities Committee which was investigating radical activities of public figures.'

What a hero! He refused to go away. Unlike, for instance, a huge swathe of the Russian officer corps, the intellectuals and the upper reaches of the communist party, who went away anyway. Never to return. But then America is implacably evil in a very very benign not-evil sort of way. Weird that.

'He was sentenced to a year in prison for contempt, although a smart lawyer spared him imprisonment.

I asked Seeger if he ever came to resent his country in what he calls "the frightened fifties".'

If only those aforementioned core of Russian society had had smart lawyers (and a couple of hundred armoured divisions, just in case). "The frightened fifties". Can't these commies get their stories straight? I thought we were SUPPOSED to be afraid, because we are bourgeois exploiters of the down-trodden masses?

'"America's treated other people much, much worse. I've spoken frankly about once being a member of the Communist Party. Should I apologise for it? Well, a lot of apologies are due.

"White people in the US should apologise to native Americans for stealing land - and to African Americans for slavery. Europeans could consider apologising for centuries of worldwide conquest. On the other hand, let's look ahead!"'

Quick, get out the highly highly highly abridged bumper book of world history, the one with only American 'crimes'. Thats the one! Now read to me again of the peculiar awfulness of those yankees.

'His energy and optimism is characteristic. He remains as fascinated by the world as he must have been as a young man when he dropped out of Harvard.'

Shouldn't that be 'are characteristic'? I'm guessing the energy and optimism are what keep him focussed so intently on Americas evils. There just isn't time for any analysis of communisms deadly fruits. 'He remains fascinated by the world as he must have been back when he was a commie'. 'He remains ossified in the rancid bitterness of the pampered children of wealth and privilege.' Thats what Vincent Dowd meant to write, but his pen slipped. 'Seeger came from a prosperous middle-class family but was inspired by the singer Woody Guthrie, seven years his senior, to explore America's folk tradition.' Prosperous middle-class family? Really?

'Seeger has always believed words and music will help make society better.'

Of course, he has always believed communism would make society better, so I'm not sure we can trust his judgement.

'In part, the New York concert is an apology for how the US once treated him - though Seeger would be the last person ever to seek such a thing.'

Read that sentance a few times, and mull over those thoughts for a minute. The United States should apologise to a rich old communist for not putting him in prison, not killing him or his family, and allowing him a long and gratifying (for him) career. Don't wait up for his apology for supporting the biggest mass murderers in history.

You could not publish in any mainstream forum an ecomium like this to an ageing Nazi. So why is it ok to do so with the other ideological abhorrence of the 20th century?

No comments: