Monday, September 3

Love him. Love this.

Billy Bragg singing his theme song with updates. Watch the interview snippet at the end, too.


  1. He's coming to NEW JERSEY next month! And guess who's got orchestra seats???

  2. Was he singing with marbles in his mouth? I can't understand a word he's saying. Prolly some leftist labor crap or something.

  3. Just kidding, of course. ;-)

  4. I think this song by Billy Bragg has a sarcastic aspect to it.... somehow I don't think he is truly waiting for the great leap forwards at all....

    "So join the struggle while you may
    The revolution is just a t-shirt away
    Waiting for the great leap forwards"

    The Great Leap Forward (Simplified Chinese: 大跃进; Traditional Chinese: 大躍進; Pinyin: Dàyuèjìn) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social plan used from 1958 to 1960 which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform mainland China from a primarily agrarian economy dominated by peasant farmers into a modern, industrialized communist society. Mao Zedong based this program on the Theory of Productive Forces. The Great Leap Forward is now widely seen, both within China and outside, as a major economic disaster.

    In October 1949 after the retreat of the Guomindang to Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China and assumed power in the country. One of its first and most important policies was land reform, whereby the land holdings of landlords and more wealthy peasants was forcibly redistributed to poorer peasants. Within the Party, there was major debate as to how and at what pace there should be further land reform. A moderate faction including Politburo member Liu Shaoqi argued that change should be gradual and that any collectivisation of the peasantry should await industrialisation, which could provide the agricultural machinery necessary for mechanised farming. A more radical faction led by Mao Zedong argued that the best way to finance industrialisation was for the Government to take control of agriculture, thereby establishing a monopoly over grain distribution and supply. This would allow the State to buy at a low price and sell much higher, thus raising the capital necessary for the industrialisation of the country. It was realised that this policy would be unpopular with the peasants and therefore it was proposed that the peasants should be brought under Party control by the establishment of agricultural collectives which would also facilitate the sharing of tools and draft animals. This policy was gradually pushed through between 1949 and 1958, first by establishing "mutual aid teams" of 5-15 households, then in 1953 "elementary agricultural cooperatives" of 20-40 households, then from 1956 in "higher co-operatives" of 100-300 families. These reforms (sometimes now referred to as The Little Leap Forward) were generally unpopular with the peasants and usually implemented by summoning them to meetings and making them stay there for days and sometimes weeks until they "voluntarily" agreed to join the collective.

    Besides these economic changes the party implemented major social changes in the countryside including the banishing of all religious and mystic institutions and ceremonies and replacing them with political meetings and propaganda sessions. Attempts were made to enhance rural education and the status of women (allowing females to initiate divorce if they desired) and ending foot-binding, child marriage and opium addiction. Internal passports were introduced in 1956 forbidding travel without appropriate authorisation. Highest priority was given to the urban proletariat for whom a welfare state was created.

    The first phase of collectivisation was not a great success and there was widespread famine in 1956, though the Party's propaganda machine announced progressively higher harvests. Moderates within the Party, including Zhou Enlai, argued for a reversal of collectivisation. The position of the moderates was strengthened by Khrushchev's 1956 Secret speech at the 20th Congress which uncovered Stalin's crimes and highlighted the failure of his agricultural policies including collectivisation in the USSR.

    In 1957 Mao responded to the tensions in the Party by promoting free speech and criticism under the 100 Flowers Campaign. In retrospect, this has come to be viewed as a ploy to allow critics of the regime, primarily intellectuals but also low ranking members of the party critical of the agricultural policies to identify themselves. Mao told a small group of supporters "Let all these ox devils and snake demons... curse us for a few months." He summed up that he was "casting a long line to bait big fish."[1] Some claim that Mao simply swung to the side of the hard-liners once his policies gained strong opposition, but given such statements and his history of cynical and ruthless attacks on critics and rivals, and his notoriously thin skin, this seems unlikely. Once he had done so, at least half a million were purged under the Anti-Rightist campaign organised by Deng Xiaoping, which effectively silenced any opposition from within the Party or from agricultural experts to the changes which would be implemented under the Great Leap Forward.

  5. Go write a book, why doncha

  6. ...But seriously:

    "I see those Angry Americans who DON'T like what's happening, both here in America and in terms of foreign policy, I see those people as the True Patriots, and I'm trying to redefine that word; [my] book is called "The Progressive Patriot," I'm trying to reclaim and redefine that word for those of us who care, and aren't prepared to be complacent about what's happening in our countries."

    This is a New American Hero, and I don't give a damn where he's from.

  7. Yay, Billy Bragg! Thanks for posting this clip, Blue Gal, I hadn't seen it before.

  8. I love Billy Bragg. I have some thoughts about the progressive redefining of patriotism. Maybe I'll post about it at my place. But in a nutshell, Websters defines a patriot as "one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests." Now, I love my country, but there is no way in Hell that I support its authority and interests. I don't WANT to be identified as a patriot, because I see patriotism -- however well meaning -- as being just a hop skip and a jump away from nationalism. It's a slippery slope."patriotism is defined as "love for or devotion to one's country." The love part is easy, but devotion implies a kind of blindness that is unsettling. So what am I -- a citizen? Don't know.

  9. Suzy:
    It depends on how you define "authority and interests." I define this nation's authority as the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the written & spoken words of the so-called founders; and I define our interests as the will of the people, not Wall Street or tiny political blocs or ax-grinding media.
    I love and am devoted to the nation our founders envisioned.


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