“THE PARTY” by Aodhagain
“Aodhagain” is my Irish-American artist nom de guerre. I am a long-time resident of Barrio Hollywood in Tucson Arizona. This painting “The Party” is based on the song lyrics “My Hero’s Have Always Been Commies” and is a depiction of an idealized party in the afterlife of prominent figures of history.
‘The Party’ was conceived while ruminating at Che’s Lounge in Tucson, thinking of friends who are gone and all the folks I would like to have a drink with who have passed away. I included a few books and records I like that I would want in the bar as well.
Not all of these people would agree with each other on many things, in fact there could be some serious conflict, which would make the party more interesting! But I think all of these figures and what they represent should learned by every student of history. As they say, we learn from the past or are unfortunately condemned to repeat it. We currently see a new rise in the use of McCarthyism and scapegoating. This is not the first time in our history that we have had to confront corrupt power structures.
I like to label my genre as “Anarcho-Realism” reflecting my contention that we are all surrounded by institutions built on bullshit, but it is all still very real, and we have to deal with it somehow. The use of art can be a sanity strategy. It is perhaps debatable as to how successful it has been in my case.
“The Party” is my submission to the 2018 3rd Annual Barrio Art Show, produced by the Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association of which I have been a long-term member.
It is hoped that the painting and the information provided about it could be used as a resource for those who want to study some aspects of history in the search for clues of how to deal with the crisis we face today. The text below has numerous web sites to access for more information about the individuals depicted in “The Party.”
Hasta La Victoria Siempre, and Have a Happy Party.
THE CHARACTERS AT THE BAR (in alphabetical order):
JOHN BROWN (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859)
“Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of their friends, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference every man in this court would have deemed it worthy of reward rather than punishment.”
An American abolitionist who advocated armed insurrection as the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery, in 1859 Brown attacked the federal armory at Harpers Ferry (West) Virginia in hopes of seizing weapons to form a national liberation movement to confront a country that enslaved others. Captured by General Robert E. Lee, Brown was tried for murder, treason, and inciting a slave insurrection against the Commonwealth of Virginia. In spite of widespread opposition from many people, including leading intellectuals of the day like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau, he was found guilty and executed. The song “John Brown’s Body” was sung by Union soldiers, eventually providing the tune for the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
For more info on the fight against racism can be found at the Southern Poverty Law Center:
RACHEL CORRIE (April 10, 1979 — March 16, 2003)
“I’ve had this underlying need to go to a place and meet people who are on the other end of the portion of my tax money that goes to fund the U.S. and other militaries.”
On March 16, 2003, Israeli Defense Forces engaged in operations involving the demolition of Palestinian houses between the Rafah refugee camp and the Egyptian border. Corrie, a 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, was with a group of British and American International Solidarity Movement activists protesting a home demolition when she was run over by a Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer and and fatally injured. “I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world.” Rachel said, and “an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the Middle East who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the U.S. supports.”
Corrie’s parents are now trying to promote peace and raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians by founding “The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice”
JAMES CONNOLLY Séamas Ó Conghaile (June 5, 1868 – May 12, 1916):
“We … are not loyal men: we confess to having more respect and honour for the raggedest child of the poorest labourer in Ireland today than for any, even the most virtuous, descendant of the long array of murderers, adulterers and madmen who have sat upon the throne of England.”
One of Irelands most significant historical leaders, Connolly was an Irish republican, a socialist and union leader leader as well as a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) and founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party. As a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising which lead to Ireland’s independence from foreign rule, he was captured during the British bombardment of Dublin and — though morally wounded — was propped up in a chair and shot with other leaders of the rebellion. His leadership is still revered today in Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist party in Ireland. Depicting a clear understanding of revolutionary socialism, he explained to the workers:
“State ownership and control is not necessarily Socialism – if it were, then the Army, the Navy, the Police, the Judges, the Gaolers, the Informers, and the Hangmen, all would all be Socialist functionaries, as they are State officials. But the ownership by the State of all the land and materials for labour, combined with the co-operative control by the workers of such land and materials, would be Socialism.”
Information on the Irish Republican Socialist Party can be found at https://irsp.ie
The IWW’s Connolly page: https://www.iww.org/history/biography/JamesConnolly/2
Black 47 Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wukfdjJv340
Andy Irvine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9cyOgNVbaM
DOROTHY DAY (November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980)
“ If you feed the poor, you’re a saint. If you ask why they’re poor, you’re a Communist.”
Along with Peter Maurin who approached her “with Kropotkin in one pocket and St. Francis in the other”— Dorothy founded the Catholic Worker movement in the midst of the U.S. Depression of the 1930’s. A radical pacifist and protester who often landed in jail, she often came under fire from the US government, the Catholic Church and (at times) certain sections of “the left.” Never backing down in support of the downtrodden and the working class and a fighter in defense of pacifism and anarchism, she inspired the likes of Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Michael Harrington and many others (including the Casa Maria Catholic Worker house that helps feed the homeless in Tucson). Although there have been proposals for her canonization to sainthood, she has said: “Do not call me a saint. I do not want to be dismissed so easily.”
Catholic Worker movement: http://www.catholicworker.org
GERONIMO Goyaałé (June 16, 1829 – February 17, 1909)
“…when all were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and my three small children were among the slain.”
A prominent Apache medicine man, Geronimo was a leader of the resistance to US and Mexican military campaigns in the Chihuahua. Sonora, New Mexico and Arizona.
Using guerrilla warfare of evasion and counter-attack for years, he was declared the “worst Indian who ever lived” among white settlers. After capture and exile, Geronimo rode horseback down Pennsylvania Avenue with five Indian chiefs the 1905 Inaugural Parade of Theodore Roosevelt, bringing crowds to their feet. Meeting with “Teddy” he made a moving humanitarian request for the exiled Chiricahua Apache’s to be relieved of their status as prisoners of war and be allowed to return to their homeland in Arizona.His request was refused. In his old age, Geronimo was reduced to attending public events (like the 1904 St. Lewis World’s Fair) where he reportedly sold souvenirs in order to survive. He was never allowed to return to the land of his birth and died at the Fort Sill in 1909, still a prisoner of war. he is highly revered today.
“I cannot think that we are useless,” he claimed “or God would not have created us.”
American Indian Movement: https://aimovement.org
American Indian rights: https://www.aclu.org/issues/racial-justice/american-indian-rights
ELIZABETH GURLY FLYNN “The Rebel Girl” (August 7, 1890 – September 5, 1964)
“The IWW has been accused of pushing women to the front. This is not true. Rather, the women have not been kept in back — so they have naturally moved to the front.”
A full-time organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, the “Rebel Girl” as she was known was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.) and a member of the Communist Party (for which she was thrown out of the ACLU). Convicted for “advocating” the overthrow of the US government, she spent two years in a federal prison camp before being released and carrying on her fight in defense of the working class. The song “The Rebel Girl” was written about her by fellow I.W.W. member Joe Hill. She worked on the campaign to free Sacco and Vanzetti and many other causes throughout her life. An ardent feminist she claimed that the bosses “.. work us like a horse, feed us like a bird, treat us like a child, dress us like a man – and then expect us to act like a lady.”
After her death she left her small estate to Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker house.
Info on the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org
Communist Party USA: http://www.cpusa.org
The Industrial Workers of the World: https://www.iww.org
EMMA GOLDMAN (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940)
“If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”
A immigrant from Russia and founder of the journal “Mother Earth” and often credited and/or condemned by J. Edgar hoover and others as the “most dangerous women in America,” Emma became a prolific anarchist writer and popular lecturer after the Haymarket riots in Chicago. Imprisoned many times for radical activity, including distributing information about birth control, she was deported to Russia in 1920 by the U.S. government. Initially a supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution, Emma quickly became discouraged with Soviet communism (especially after the Kronstadt Rebellion). In Spain she supported the anti-fascist front against Franco and the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) named her their “spiritual mother.” The U.S. eventually allowed her body to be brought back and buried near the graves of the Haymarket martyrs.
At her deportation from the U.S. she warned: ”Today so-called aliens are deported. Tomorrow native Americans will be banished. Already some patrioteers are suggesting that native American sons, to whom democracy is a sacred ideal, should be exiled.”
Article on Anarchism and Noam Chomsky: https://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/noam-chomsky-kind-anarchism-i-believe-and-whats-wrong-libertarians
WOODY GUTHERIE (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967)
“If the fight gets hot, the songs get hotter. If the going gets tough, the songs get tougher.”
Woody was friends with Leadbelly, John Steinbeck Will Gear and Pete Seeger, while being an inspiration to Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jerry Garcia, Andy Irvine and many others. Considered one of the most significant American artists in history. prolific song-writer (and journalist for the “Daily Worker” newspaper), he is most known for what some term America’s real national anthem: “This Land is Your Land” as a response to “God Bless America.” Many versions of the song often leave out his most stinging verses:
“As I went out walking, I saw a sign there, And on one side there it said Private Property.
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing — that side was made for you and me!”
The Woody Guthrie Foundation can be found at: https://www.woodyguthrie.org
The Woody Gutherie Folk Festival: https://www.woodyfest.com
HEATHER HEYER (May 29, 1985 – August 12, 2017)
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
A democratic socialist member from Charlottesville, Heather was working as a 32 year old para-legal and waitress from Charlottesville when she was killed by a fascist at a rally in her home town held against the KKK and Nazi’s. She was known by her friends and co-workers as someone who always stood up for justice and supported the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the Democratic Socialists of America.
In her memory Heather’s mother (Susan Bro) created the nonprofit Heather Heyer Foundation to civil rights and to help provide scholarships for social justice:
The Democratic Socialist of America (DSA): http://www.dsausa.org
JOE HILL Joseph Hillstrom (October 7, 1879 – November 19, 1915)
“Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.”
Swedish-American labor activist and popular songwriter for the Industrial Workers of the World, Joe Hill was executed without evidence over the murder of a Salt Lake City grocer and his son. A “controversial” trial, the Chief Justice declared that “the defendant may not avoid the natural and reasonable inferences of remaining silent” when he refused to testify and was convicted. Before his execution he wrote that the copper bosses needed him as a scapegoat: “the undersigned being, as they thought, a friendless tramp, a Swede, and worst of all, an IWW who had no right to live anyway…”
Hill’s ashes were cast to the wind in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Australia, and Nicaragua (and a small amount was swallowed by revolutionary singer Billy Bragg at the suggestion of Abbie Hoffman). “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” has been sung by many, notably Joan Baez and Bruce Springsteen.
Some good Joe Hill sites:
MOTHER JONES Mary G. Harris Jones (August 1, 1837 – November 30, 1930
(although she claimed May 1, 1830 as her birth date!)
“I am not a humanitarian. I am a hell-raiser.”
An Irish-born American schoolteacher, prominent labor and community organizer, a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World and an active member of the Socialist Party of America, Mother Jones was labeled “the most dangerous woman in America” for her success in organizing with the United Mineworkers Union against the mine owners. Living until the age of 93, she is buried in the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois, alongside her beloved miners. On International Women’s Day a proposal was adopted for a plaque to be erected in Mary Harris Jones’s native Cork City, which was unveiled on the 1st of August 2012 to mark the 175th anniversary of her birth. The Cork Mother Jones Festival is held annually in Ireland close to her birthplace, and has led to growing awareness of Mother Jones’s legacy and links between admirers in Ireland and the US.
One of Mother Jones most famous lines: ”Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”
The Annual Cork (Ireland) Mother Jones Festival: https://motherjonescork.com
The Industrial Workers of the World: https://www.iww.org
Mother Jones magazine: https://www.motherjones.com
FRIEDA KAHLO: (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954)
“It was worthwhile to come here only to see why Europe is rotting, why all these people – good for nothing – are the cause of all the Hitler’s and Mussolini’s.”
Emblematic of Mexican, indigenous, and feminist tradition, Kahlo suffered throughout her life from an auto train accident at an early age, which she graphically depicted through her magnificent paintings. In the Communist Party she met and married fellow artist Diego Rivera (“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the train, the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”) Both helped to successfully petition the Mexican government to grant asylum to the exiled former Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky. Although overshadowed in her life by her famous husband, she has gained great prominence since, proclaiming: “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” Although very sick and bedridden from pneumonia, she made her last public appearance in 1954 to protest the CIA invasion of Guatemala. Later in his life Diego Rivera was revealed to be an informer for the US (hence his absence in the painting by Aodhagain).
The Frieda Kahlo website: http://www.fkahlo.com
Frieda Kahlo Museum: http://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/en/
HELEN KELLER (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968)
“The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands – the ownership and control of their livelihoods – are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights.”
A prolific author, lecturer, political activist, as well as the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree, Helen Keller is mostly known through the popular film “The Miracle Worker.” What is not widely known is that she grew up to become a member of the Socialist Party of America and then the I.W.W. (charging that “‘parliamentary’ socialism is sinking in the political bog”) and spent her life fighting for the rights of the disabled, women’s suffrage, and against militarism. She also helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union. Always asserting that “science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings…” Helen was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 and was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. The braille inscription in front of her reads “Resist.”
American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org
The Socialist Party USA: https://www.socialistpartyusa.net
Helen Keller International organization:
MARIN LUTHER KING JR. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”
The preeminent leader of the U.S. civil rights, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. King was considered an enemy by J. Edgar Hoover who made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. FBI agents recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and mailing him a threatening letter suggesting that he should commit suicide. Martin was also under investigation by the C.I.A. for communist ties, although he actually was a democratic socialist. The official story of his assassination on March 29, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee continues to be contested by the King family and others. A year before his death he wrote of the need to “raise questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth…to question the capitalistic economy.”
More info can be found at the King Center: http://www.thekingcenter.org
Article on FBI and MLK: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/07/the-fbi-and-martin-luther-king/302537/
MALCOLM X: (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)
“In the past, the greatest weapon the white man has had has been his ability to divide and conquer. If I take my hand and slap you, you don’t even feel it. It might sting you because these digits are separated. But all I have to do to put you back in your place is bring those digits together.”
One of the greatest of African-American human rights activists, Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) eventually reputed the Nation of Islam of which he was a major leader, disavowing its racism but continued to support Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense. In March of 1964, he met Martin Luther King Jr. for the first and only time in Washington, D.C., as both men attended the Senate’s debate on the Civil Rights bill. Less than one year later, on February 21, 1965, he was assassinated and three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted for the murder. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria had all invited Malcolm X to serve in their governments. His funeral in Harlem was attended by tens of thousands of mourners. Time magazine named “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” one of the ten most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.
More info: http://malcolmx.com
NELSON MANDELA (Xhosa clan name: MADIBA): (July 18,1918 – December 5, 2013)
“In my country we go to prison first, and then become President.”
The leading anti-apartheid revolutionary and a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party, Mandela spent 27 long and hard years in prison before elected as President of South Africa (1994 to 1999) in the country’s first fully representative democratic election. By his emphasizing reconciliation between racial groups — “courageous people do not fear forgiving for the sake of peace” — he insured a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy and introduced measures to combat poverty and expand healthcare for the poor. For most of his life he was denounced by authorities in the U.S. as well as South Africa as a communist and a terrorist, but is today held with deep respect throughout the world and Nelson received more than 250 honors—including the Nobel Peace Prize.
More info at: https://www.nelsonmandela.org
CONSTANCE MARKIEVICZ: (February 4, 1868 – July 15, 1927)
“Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots. Leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver.”
A revolutionary socialist and founder (with James Connolly) of the Irish Citizen Army, she took an active part in the leadership of Irish Easter Rising in 1916 for which she was sentenced to death, which was revoked due to “solely” and on account of her gender. In response to her commutation to life in prison she declared to her captors “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me.” She was granted amnesty a year later and became the first woman elected to the British House of Commons (for Sinn Fein, Ireland’s revolutionary/nationalist party) and was the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position (as Minister for Labour in the Irish Republic). After giving away all her wealth she died in a public housing ward among the poor — where she claimed she always “wanted to be.”
More info on her role in the Easter Rebellion:
MOHAMMAD MOSADDEGH: (June 16, 1882 – March 5, 1967)
“My greatest sin is that I nationalized Iran’s oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world’s greatest empire. This at the cost to myself, my family; and at the risk of losing my life, my honor and my property. With God’s blessing and the will of the people, I fought this savage and dreadful system of international espionage and colonialism.”
After being democratically elected prime minister of Iran (1951) as a champion of secular democracy, his administration introduced a range of progressive reforms which included the introduction of social security and unemployment compensation as well as nationalization of Iranian oil (later known as BP or British Petroleum) which precipitated a coup d’état orchestrated by British MI6 and the CIA, in spite of his assurances for fair compensation and his open distrust of socialism. Imprisoned and under house arrest until his death in 1967, he was denied any funeral by the Shah, but remains today one of the most popular political figures in Iranian history as a secular and popular defender of democracy.
PABLO NERUDA: (July 12,1904 – September 23,1973)
“We need to sit on the rim of the well of darkness and fish for fallen light with patience.”
A poet since the age of 13 and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971), Neruda was Chile’s poet-diplomat and close friend with the socialist President Salvador Allende before the coup d’état that overthrew the democratically elected government in 1973. Engulfed in the Spanish Civil War in his youth, he became an ardent Communist while critical of the “cult of a Socialist deities” and “Mao Tse-Stalinism”. As with other attacks against elected governments, the US encouraged the coup, threatening to cut aid unless the Chilean military acted, using extensive covert operations to create unrest to destabilize the government. It is estimated that 3,000 were killed (including the popular singer/songwriter Victor Jara, an album of whom is in the painting). Approximately 30,000 were arrested by Pinochet’s fascist state, of whom many were tortured. A bust of Pablo stands at the Organization of American States building in Washington D.C.
GEORGE ORWELL (Eric Arthur Blair) (June 25,1903 – January 21, 1950)
“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
A life-long outspoken proponent for democratic socialism and a fierce critic of “left” or “right” totalitarianism, Orwell is best know for his books “1984,” and “Animal Farm.” His forceful “Homage to Catalonia,” is his account of his experiences in fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil and a critique of the negative role the communists played against the socialists and anarchists in that struggle. As he described his work: “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.” George’s birthplace in Motihari, Bihar, India, was opened as a museum in 2015, and a statue of him stands outside the headquarters of the BBC.
Review of “Why Orwell Matters” by Christopher Hitchens:
LUCY PARSONS (1853 – March 7, 1942)
“Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.”
An anarchist/communist labor organizer and a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World, Parsons was married to radical newspaper editor Albert Parsons who was executed in 1887 in conjunction with the Haymarket Affair. It is believed that she may have been born a slave to parents of Native American, African American and Mexican ancestry. Described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” Lucy continued to give fierce speeches into her 80s, where she inspired many other progressives including American author Studs Terkel. I her later years she joined the Communist Party USA.
The Lucy Parsons Center, a collectively-run radical bookstore in Boston, was founded in 1970 and in the 1990s a memorial to her was installed in Wicker Park, Chicago. (The Nation magazine has a free short film of her online: “More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters: The Revolutionary Life of Lucy Parsons.”)
Lucy Parsons Center: http://lucyparsons.org
ETHEL ROSENBERG (September 25, 1915 – June 19, 1953)
“We are innocent, as we have proclaimed and maintained from the time of our arrest. This is the whole truth. To forsake this truth is to pay too high a price even for the priceless fight of life, for life thus purchased we could not live in dignity and self respect.”
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were United States citizens who were tried, convicted, and executed by the federal government of the United States for spying for the Soviet Union. While there is some contention as to how guilty they were of espionage, their trial was marred by clear judicial and legal improprieties. Prosecutor Roy Cohn, henchman for Joseph McCarthy — and Donald Trump — boastfully claimed that his influence led to their death. Jean-Paul Sartre called the trial “a legal lynching which smears with blood a whole nation.” Their execution was opposed by Jean Cocteau, Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, Dashiell Hammett, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Pablo Picasso and Pope Pius XII (all interesting historical figures in their own right), who appealed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower to spare the couple from the death penalty, to no avail. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that the execution was “a legal lynching which smears with blood a whole nation. By killing the Rosenbergs, you have quite simply tried to halt the progress of science by human sacrifice.”
“The Rosenberg Fund for Children” is an organization formed by Julius and Ethel’s children, which helps other children whose parents have been targeted for trying to work for peace and justice: WWW.RFC.Org
NICOLA SACCO (April 22, 1891 – August 23, 1927)
BARTOLOMEO VANZETTI (June 11, 1888 – August 23, 1927)
“If it had not been for these things, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man’s understanding of man as now we do by accident. Our words — our lives — our pains — nothing! The taking of our lives — lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler — all! That last moment belongs to us — that agony is our triumph.”
Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian born American anarchist/activists who were wrongfully accused of murder and executed by the United States government — in spite of recanted testimony of witnesses, conflicting ballistic evidence, and a confession of an alleged participant. Their legend lives in songs and poems. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of their executions, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation declaring that they had been unfairly tried and convicted while declaring that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names.”
Irish singer Christy Moore song to Sacco and Vanzetti:
Commemoration Society: http://www.saccoandvanzetti.org
BOBBY SANDS: Roibeárd Gearóid Ó Seachnasaigh; (March 9, 1954 – May 5, 1981)
“All things must come to pass as one, so hope should never die.
There is no height or bloody might that a freeman can’t defy.
There is no source or foreign force can break one man who knows
that his free will no thing can kill … and from that, freedom grows.”
A member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who died on hunger strike while imprisoned at a British concentration camp after being sentenced for firearms possession and membership of an “illegal organization” (the Irish Republican Army). Bobby went on hunger strike to defend political prisoner’s rights and while starving was elected to the British Parliament from his jail cell, proving to the world the popular support of the Irish Republican movement. A poet and songwriter, he died after 66 days on hunger strike and was followed by the deaths of nine other Irish Republicans in demanding their political status. Today, Ireland is closer to unification than at any time in its history, largely thanks to the sacrifice of Bobby Sands and the nine other hunger strikers.
Bobby Sands Trust: http://www.bobbysandstrust.com
Sinn Fein: https://www.sinnfein.ie
Anphoblacht (newspaper): http://www.anphoblacht.com
PETE SEEGER: (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)
“Communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it.”
Blacklisted for decades in America for his refusal to cooperate with McCarthyism, Pete is perhaps the world’s greatest icon of folk/protest music, influencing generations of musicians and songwriters like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and many others throughout the world. Although an initial supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution, later he modifying his views and become critical of Stalin’s crimes while still always defining himself as “a communist — but with a small c.” He remained active in many social causes though out his life, particularly on environmental issues, and the massive clean-up of the Hudson River.
HARRIET TUBMAN: (1822 – March 10, 1913)
“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
Although an escaped slave herself, she risked her life and liberty by making some thirteen missions to rescue slaves by building the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the “Underground Railroad.” She also helped in recruiting men for John Browns raid on Harpers Ferry armory to seize weapons for the war against slavery. In her later years she also became an avid activist for women’s rights. Her story remains an inspiration to those who support refugee rights and the sanctuary movement.
The Tubman Museum: http://www.tubmanmuseum.com
“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Included in the painting to represent the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and settlement, supported by the artist Aodhagain (who also depicts a Palestinian flag hanging in the background between the Scottish and Irish national flags, two other national movements the artist strongly supports). Since the British imposition of a Jewish state in Palestine (Balfour Declaration) the Palestinian people have fought for their national liberation leading in 1948 to the flight of approximately 700,000 Arab Palestinians. The Six-Day War of 1967 lead to an additional 360,000 Palestinian refugees and the take-over of their lands for Israeli settlements. Today there is a prohibition of the right to return for the native population. The use sling shots became a primary tactic of the First Intifada (1987) where over 1,000 Palestinians were killed and over 4,000 killed in the Second Intifada (2005).
In March of 2018 (when “The Party” painting was begun) the annual Palestinian protest near the Gaza-Israeli border (“Great March of Return”) the Israeli military shot dead over 50 Palestinian protesters at the border, compelling Human Rights Watch to call it a “bloodbath.”
Palestinian solidarity: https://www.palestinecampaign.org/about/
Jewish Voice for Peace: https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org
PANCHO VILLA: (June 5, 1878 – July 20 1923)
“My sole ambition is to rid Mexico of the class that has oppressed her and given the people a chance to know what real liberty means. And if I could bring that about today by giving up my life, I would do it gladly.”
Commander of the Division of the North in Mexico’s Constitutionalist Army in alliance with Emiliano Zapata in the south, villa is particularly known for conducting the first military attack against the US in Columbus New Mexico in 1916, prompting an unsuccessful attempt by US Army General John Pershing to capture him. After retiring from the revolution he started to involve himself in politics as the 1923 presidential election approached he was assassinated. The artist says “I would have to include Villa at my imaginary bar —a man who didn’t actually drink but who could raise more hell than anyone — but only if Zapata was around to control him.”
EMILIANO ZAPATA: (August 8, 1879 – April 10, 1919)
“If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government.”
Leader of the peasant revolts that continues to inspire agrarian reform (“Zapatismo”) and credited with the fall of the dictator Porfirio Dias, Zapata worked to unite progressive forces against corruption and for democratic reforms. He was ambushed when going to a meeting at a request of his cowardly adversaries who lied in claiming they wanted to surrender in order to assassinate him. While the land reform he envisioned (“Plan De Ayala”) was never fully enacted, significant land distribution did take effect and Zapata continues to be one of the most revered national heroes of Mexico. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation continues to fight for indigenous rights and in opposition to globalization, incorporating elements of libertarian socialism, anarchism, and Marxism in their movement, living Zapata’s instruction that “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”
Article by Chris Hedges on Zapatismo:
Books by the following authors can be found in “The Party.” As Aodhagain explains, the books are added to the painting for several reasons. “First, I like these books and want them in my imaginary afterlife! Also, and it would be great to have the people in the painting discuss these works, as every student should. But I would not necessarily want to hang out with all these authors in a bar. Lorca, Wilde, Steinbeck yes!, but Marx or Lenin would probably just be a buzz kill. But their writings? They need to be part of any seriously inebriated argument.”
Jacobo Árbenz (September 14, 1913 – January 27, 1971) on Time Magazine cover on the bar.
Nicknamed “El Suizo” for his Swiss origins, the democratically elected President of Guatemala (1951) enacted landmark agrarian reforms before being ousted and exiled in a military coup d’état engineered by the US Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency.
“Our crime is having enacted an agrarian reform which effected the interests of the United Fruit Company.” Info on coup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d%27état
Noam Chomsky (December 7, 1928 — hopefully forever) Renown linguist who revolutionized the treatment of language as “cognitive psychology” and the capacity for creativity as part of human nature, he is widely acknowledged as being an immensely effective social critic who currently holds a joint appointment at MIT and University of Arizona in Tucson (home of the artist). Professor Chomsky is also viewed as the most important living advocate of anarcho-syndicalism (or libertarian socialism). In spite of his high status in the intellectual sphere he has been mostly ignored by the U.S. mainstream media. As he asserts: “The media serve the interests of state and corporate power … framing their reporting and analysis in a manner supportive of established privilege and limiting debate and discussion accordingly.”
Chomsky website: https://chomsky.info
Antonio Francesco Gramsci (January 22 1891 – April 27, 1937) An important Italian Marxist and leader of the Communist Party of Italy who was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime, where he died due denial of adequate medical attention. He is known for this theory of “cultural hegemony” and how the state can use cultural institutions to maintain power. He is considered a key thinker in the development of Western Marxism still studied today.
Hồ Chí Minh (May 19, 1890 – September 2, 1969) Vietnamese revolutionary who lead the movement for independence from 1941 until his death. He is believed to have worked and traveled to Harlem, Boston and Brooklyn for General motors and made contact with Korean nationalists and attended meetings of Pan-Africanist leader Marcus Garvey. Citing the principle of self-determination outlined in the peace accords following World War 1, Ho promoted a petition to the U.S. for recognition of the civil rights of the Vietnamese, and was ignored. During World War II he oversaw many actions against the pro-Fascist Vichy French and the Japanese occupation of Vietnam and was jailed in China (by Chiang Kai-shek) before returning home. He repeatedly petitioned President Harry Truman to support Vietnamese independence, but was ignored.
Carl Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) Artist, craftsman and builder, Jung is best known as a prolific writer in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, philosophy and religious studies. Jung had worked with Sigmund Freud before their differences caused a schism. A strong advocate of individual rights in relation to the state and society, believing that the more the state is worshipped the more freedom and morality are suppressed, “Man and his Symbols” is one of the artists favorite books, hence its placement at The Party.
Vladimir Illyich Lenin (April 22, 1870 – January 21, 1924) Bolshevik revolutionary leader and head of the Soviet Union from 1922-24, he nationalized banks and industry and redistributed land among the peasantry, but also viciously suppressed opponents of both of the left and right (and every other variety). After Lenin’s death, Stalin’s administration established an ideology known as “Marxism-Leninism.” This movement is interpreted differently by various contending movements.
Critique by Chomsky: https://chomsky.info/1986____/
Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) Playwright, novelist, and short story writer and was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize inLiterature (1930) and whom H .L. Mencken called a “red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds.” Satirizing American commercial culture with novels like “Babbitt” and religious hypocrisy in “Elmer Gantry,” his 1935 novel “It Can’t Happen Here” foresees the election of a fascist to the American presidency with promises to restore the country to prosperity and greatness (sound familiar?. A member of the Socialist Party, he became the subject of an FBI investigation for his advocacy of social justice.
Federico Garcia Lorca (June 5th 1898 – August 19,1936) Spanish poet, playwright and theatre director, involved with Salvador Dali, who was executed by Franco’s Fascists in the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Accused him of being “a socialist and a freemason” and “rumored to be a homosexual” who engaged in “abnormal practices,” his body has never been found.
Karl Marx (May 5 1818 – 14 March 14, 1883) Considered history’s most important philosopher, economist, historian, political theorist and revolutionary socialist (with Friedrich Engels). Best known for his pamphlet “The Communist Manifesto” and his three volume classic “Das Kapital” he advocated that the means of production be under total control of the working class and the replacement of private property and a profit based economy with public ownership and communal control.
John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) Nobel Prize in Literature recipient (1962) and author of “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Of Mice and Men,” Cannery Row,” and “Travels with Charley” and other classics (27 books, 16 novels and two collections of short stories). Although J. Edgar Hoover could never find a basis for prosecuting him for his radical vision, the FBI did use its power to get the IRS to audit Steinbeck’s taxes every year of his life.
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) Abolitionist (and defender of John Brown), naturalist, tax resister, poet and essayist best known for his book “Walden” and his essay “Civil Disobedience” in which he argued (and actively engaged in) disobedience to an unjust state. Credited with being a major influence on modern day environmentalism his political thought had a powerful effect on Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Sun Tzu (544 BC – 496 BC) A Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher whose book “The Art of War” continues to have an international influence and accepted as a masterpiece on (Taoist) strategy. Mao Zedong gave credit to the book in his 1949 communist victory in China. It was also translated into Vietnamese by Ho Chi Minh for his military officers and is still widely studied today by militaries throughout the world.
Oscar Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) A widely popular Irish poet, playwright, and novelist before being personally ruined for the “crime” of homosexuality by Orange bigot and founder of Northern Ireland, Edward Carson. A life-long socialist, Wilde’s works include “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” and “The Soul of Man Under Socialism.”
“The I.W.W. “Little Red Songbook” (1909) A compilation of tunes by the Industrial Workers of the World to promote solidarity and lift the spirits of the working class which includes songs by Joe Hill and Ralph Chaplin.
John “Dizzy” Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) Trumpeter extraordinaire, bandleader, composer and singer, Dizzy was a leading popularizer of bebop along with Charlie Parker. He ran a (tongue-in-cheek) campaign for president in 1964, promising to rename the White house the “Blues House” with Duke Ellington as Secretary of State, Miles Davis Director of the CIA, Max Roach Secretary of Defense, Charles Mingus Secretary of Peace, Ray Charles Librarian of Congress, Louis Armstrong Secretary of Agriculture, Thelonious Monk Traveling Ambassador, and Malcom X as Attorney General. (Most or all of these artists — like many other cultural figures — were under FBI/CIA surveillance for their support of civil rights).
Billy Bragg (December 20, 1957) Left-wing political activist and musician strongly influenced by the political punk group The Clash, Billy recorded famous socialist anthems like “The International” and “The Red Flag” while supporting worker rights and Scottish, Welsh and Irish independence and forcefully condemning fascism, racism, bigotry, sexism and homophobia. On the fifth anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death he founded “Jail Guitar Doors” to help supply instruments to prisoners.
Paul Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) Singer, actor, youthful star athlete who began his political activities supporting the Republican cause against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, he became an active in civil rights and support for the Soviet Union, which caused him to be blacklisted in the United States. His performances were cancelled at the behest of the FBI, so he traveled abroad to work. He was denied a passport “to afford him less freedom of expression” in his “extreme advocacy on behalf of the independence of the colonial peoples of Africa.” His right to travel eventually restored by a 1958 Supreme Court decision.
Bread and Roses is a political slogan first used by Polish born American socialist/feminist Rose Schneiderman who declared that “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” It is commonly associated with the successful textile workers strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912, a strike led (and won) by women. The logo for the Democratic Socialist of America is inspired by the symbol.
Dove of Peace (over a stuffed pig)
In George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm” the animals achieve a successful revolution in what was hoped to be a democratic co-operative only to have one group — the pigs — take over the reins of power. When asked why the promised equality, a the basic tenants of the revolution, was being usurped, the pigs responded by saying “some of us are more equal than others.” In “The Party” the pig lies stuffed and ready to eat (”Eat the Rich”) as it is being perched on by the Dove of Peace. https://fictionfanblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/animal-farm-by-george-orwell/
Pablo Picasso (October 25, 1881 – April 8, 1973) two representations in “The Party” including the flowers (held by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn) and a blue vase with a white face. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, Picasso’s depiction of the bombing of “Guernica” reflects his anti-fascist (and pro-communist) sentiments. Based on his “extremist ideas evolving towards communism” he was once denied citizenship in France.
Haymarket Statue (held by Lucy Parsons) The Haymarket martyrs were anarchists (including Lucy’s husband Albert) who were hung based on their participation in a May 4, 1884 Chicago demonstration in support of an eight hour day. A bomb of unknown origin went off which caused the death of seven policeman. Albert Parsons always believed the bomber was a member of the police. (Emma Goldman chose to be buried near the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument graves in Forest Park, outside of Chicago).
African shield, RPG rocket, and armalite. They lay semi-hidden behind the bar (for now). As a slogan in the Irish ghetto once declared: “God made us Catholic. but the armalite made us equal.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArmaLite
Poster of Patrice Lumumba (July 2, 1925 – January 17, 1961) Elected Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo, he playing a crucial role in the transformation of the country from a colony (of Belgium) to an independent republic and whom Malcolm X declared to be “the greatest black man who every walked the African continent.” This democratically elected leader was subsequently imprisoned, tortured and executed under orders from the Belgian government and the CIA. Belgium later took “moral responsibility” for the execution, the U.S. has yet to apologize for its destruction of democracy.
Poster of Salvador Allende (June 26, 1908 – September 11, 1973) In spite of major election interference by the US, Allende was the first Marxist elected to a Latin American country who adopted a policy of nationalization of industries and major reforms benefitting the poor and working class. The Chilean military — with the direct support and guidance of the CIA, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Anaconda and Kennecott Copper companies — staged a coup d’etat that ended four decades of uninterrupted democratic rule in the country and imposed the fascist dictatorship under General Pinochet who imposed systematic repression from 1973 until 1990. Over 3,000 were left dead, tens of thousands tortured, and hundreds of thousands into exile. As the artist says “this was the first 9-11 tragedy.”
Easter Lily’s in vase: originated in 1925 by members of Cumann na MBan, the all-female organization of the Irish Republican Army the lily is worn as a symbol of respect for the Easter Rebellion and those who lost their lives fighting for a free and independent Ireland. The colors, like the Irish tricolor flag, has green to represent the native Celt, orange in acknowledgment of the unionist tradition, and while in the desire for peace and respect between the two sides.
Sabo-tabby Kitten: The IWW symbol for sabotage or direct action, a favorite strike tactic of the Wobblies, likely created by Ralph Chaplin (the Wobbly most famous for penning the famous worker song “Solidarity Forever”). The symbol was used in the IWW’s recent Starbucks Workers Organizing Campaign in New York, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Cincinnati, Bloomington, Omaha, and Quebec City. (Like a cat, the IWW seems to have nine lives).
The artist Aodhagain insists that “there are many others I would have liked to include in ‘The Party’ that includes other poets, organizers, fighters for human rights, too many to count — and I ran out of room. It’s supposed to be in a bar, not a damn convention hall fugsakes!”