Perambulating the Bounds

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Breaking News from the Cold War

Sheesh. It turns out we are still trying to get over the fact that Pete Seeger was once a bona fide Communist but when he left the Party he never felt the need to renounce everything he believed. Yahoo News now informs us that Pete has written a song critical of Joe Stalin. Is this the internet trying to relive 1971? Leaving aside the significance of an 88-year old writing a song critical of a ruler who’s been dead 54 years, it says something that this can still make news. American society has never forgiven Seeger for sticking to the principle that the world would be a better place if we organized ourselves to share resources and work together for the common good—not compete ruthlessly with each other to see who could gain the most at the expense of others. This is what Communism was supposed to be about. At the end of the day it wasn’t, and Stalin used the name to cover a brutal dictatorship. As I see it, people like Pete Seeger turned away from the Party, and for all practical purposes away from anything called Communism, but that doesn’t mean they went to the other side. It was and is a false dichotomy. Pete stuck to his guns, the real guns, not some name.

It might be obvious that Pete Seeger is a hero of mine. He’s my answer to the question “if you could have dinner with one person.” I’ve never heard him live, and now he really doesn’t sing concerts. One time, several years ago, he sang AT MY CHURCH. But I was out of town on business.


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