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Iraq during W-War One: When the British sent in their Muslim Indian soldiers to fight the Arabs

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  • Tarek Fatah
    Friends, It is deja vu as one reads about India, Pakistan and Bangladesh being pressured to contribute troops to help maintain the occupation of Iraq. During
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2003

      It is deja vu as one reads about India, Pakistan and Bangladesh being
      pressured to contribute troops to help maintain the occupation of Iraq.
      During World War One Britain sent in its Indian Army to invade Iraq and
      fight the Turks, and later the resisting Iraqis.

      But as you will read in the attached article, many Muslim soldiers from what
      is now Pakistan, defected to the other side and settled down later in the
      Middle East.

      The article by Peter Linebaugh for CounterSpin makes for fascinating reading
      as it weaves together tales from Karachi, Basra, and Kut in 1916 and
      revolves them around Betrude Bell, Rosa Luxembourg, Lawrence, Lenin,
      Kipling, Gandhi, and of course Townshend.

      Read and reflect.

      Tarek Fatah
      May 1, 2003

      Against Defeat, Laughter
      May Day at Kut and Kienthal


      Inasmuch as the historian's craft depends on written records, then the
      answer to the question posed in the title of V. Gordon Childe's classic book
      about the Tigris and Euphrates, What Happened in History? is well answered
      in the title of another classic book on the same subject by Samuel Kramer,
      History Begins at Sumer, because that's where writing began.

      With the American 'liberation' of Iraq and the subsequent destruction of the
      library of Baghdad and its museum of antiquities, we could say, therefore,
      that history while not quite coming to an end has become impossible to
      write. However, there are other sources of knowledge of the past, such as
      song and story, flora and fauna, with which we'll have to make do, not to
      mention what we remember. Baghdad scholarship survived the sacking by
      Genghis Khan and there is no reason to think that it will not persist after
      the burning of the books by the U.S.A.

      Still...Following the planetary mobilizations of February 15 and March 22,
      on the one hand, and this barbaric devastation of Iraq on the other, we
      don't feel exactly like dancing around the Maypole. We need that history
      which seizes hold of "a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger."
      While the storm from paradise blows us into the future, the angel of history
      turns its face to the past, commemorating, remembering: May Day and the
      Haymarket hangings: May Day and the 8-hour day struggle: the May Days of
      soixante-huite: May Day and the struggles against apartheid: May Day and the
      central American solidarity movement.

      We do not smile. While the Americans are wrapping the cradle of civilization
      in its winding sheet, the angel of history stops at May Day 1916 and the
      terrible siege, surrender, and slaughter at Kut on the Tigris river.

      Every May Day story has its point, and Rosa Luxemburg expresses mine: "The
      brilliant basic idea of May Day is the autonomous, immediate stepping
      forward of the proletarian masses, the political mass action of the millions
      of workers," she wrote on the eve of the Great War, and wasn't it so just
      last month, March 22, and the month before, 15 February, when we millions
      around the planet autonomously stepped forward? And why did we autonomously
      step forward? Peace in Iraq. Yet, Red Rosa said that "The direct,
      international mass manifestation: the strike [was] a demonstration and means
      of struggle for the eight-hour day, world peace, and socialism." Peace, yes;
      but we left aside the 8-hour day and socialism. Is that why we failed to
      stop the war?

      In the spring of 1916 at Verdun two million men were engaged in massive
      mutual holocaust; there were 676,000 losses. In Mesopotamia, tens and scores
      of thousands of sepoys of the Indian Expeditionary Force 'D,' on behalf of
      the British Empire, disembarked at Basra at the beginning of the war, with
      the strategic objectives: 1) securing the oil supply from Persia, 2)
      protecting the main corridor to India, and 3) preventing a jihad combining
      Arab, Afghan, with a rising in India. We could sum it up, as Connolly did,
      "the capitalist class of Great Britain, the meanest, most unscrupulous
      governing class in all history, is out for plunder." A fourth objective
      emerged on the sly. British government in India wished to annex Mesopotamia,
      but British empire in London preferred to operate from its lair in Cairo
      than Delhi.

      The lure of Baghdad proved irresistible to General Townshend, the commander.
      Foolishly (for the Persian refineries were already secured) he led the
      re-named Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force up the Tigris River extending his
      lines of communication far beyond the powers of his base to supply it with
      food. Repulsed before reaching Baghdad, he was forced to retreat a hundred
      miles to Kut. There followed a four months siege, a humiliating defeat, and
      surrender on the eve of May first 1916. Parallel with this narrative of
      disaster ran two sub-plots, a) the soldiers' resistance, and b) the
      orientalizing derring-do of Lawrence of Arabia and the charming wiles of
      Gertrude Bell.

      Townshend found keeping up morale "the most difficult of all military
      operations" and one in which the British soldier is "very prone to get out
      of hand." They arrived and dug in at Kut after two days of forced marches,
      and then suffered heat, exhaustion, floods, disease, famine. The Indian
      battalions had practically become "armed bands." The bulk of the troops were
      Muslim. Seditious pamphlets in Urdu and in Hindustani tempting the troops to
      rise and murder their officers, join their bothers the Turks, who would pay
      them better and provide grants of land.

      One sepoy did attempt to shoot his officer, several deserted, and twelve to
      fourteen soldiers cut off their trigger fingers. Many were from Punjab.
      Dysentery claimed fifteen dead a day, and twenty from starvation. Townshend
      complained about the "trans-border Pathans." He wanted them returned to
      India. They refused to eat horseflesh, and though he mixed Hindu and
      Mohammedan on picket duty and outpost work, he could not break their
      solidarity. Altogether, seventy-two deserted.

      Moberly, whose three volumes on the Mesopotamian campaign provides the
      official history, explained: since the Pathans were without private
      property, the British promise to assure rightful succession to their
      property in the event of their being killed was without effect! Behind this
      logic were imperial fears of mutiny and commonism. Against these, terror was
      the traditional remedy. The Arab inhabitants of Kut would not sell their
      food. Townshend asked headquarters for gold, and explained, "I could not
      flog 6,000 people into taking paper money. All I could do was to keep them
      in good behavior by shooting one now and then pour encourager les autres
      when spies, etc., were caught."

      Gertrude Bell was the first woman to win a First in Modern History at
      Oxford. Her grandfather was a rich British industrialist, supplying one
      third of British iron. She danced, she rode horse, she spoke Arabic, quoted
      Milton, archaeologically discovered cities, charmed imperious egos. She
      became the silken agent of English guile. Gertrude Bell wrote from Military
      Intelligence's Arab Bureau, next to the Cairo Savoy, "It's great fun." In
      Cairo Lawrence intrigued to encourage the Arab revolt against the Ottoman
      Empire. Gertrude Bell was dispatched to India. The disaster at Kut put a
      decided damper on its ambitions. "I hate war; oh, and I'm so weary of it--of
      war, of life," as she sighed from Basra, in March 1916 during the frightful
      heat. That was the month that the British government began to pay Sharif
      Hussein £125,000 gold sovereigns a month, a deal she helped set up.

      Gertrude dallied with Lawrence, "We have had great talks and made vast
      schemes for the government of the universe. He goes up river tomorrow, where
      the battle is raging these days." A month after the surrender, indeed, the
      Arab revolt began. Lawrence was able to write a scathing report on the
      Indian army's operations in Mesopotamia. The English political officer, "Cox
      is entirely ignorant of Arab societies," plotted Lawrence. An obstacle to
      the Arab revolt--Indian ambitions for the cradle of civilization--had been
      discredited. "The most important thing of all will be cash," quoth his
      instructions. In April Lawrence was authorized to offer the Turks £1,000,000
      to quit the siege of Kut, though he doubled it, Khalil Pasha rejected it

      In March Lawrence read Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, several
      parallels may be made--the thirst ("Water, water, everywhere/Nor any drop to
      drink"), the sun, the heat, the loneliness, the guilt of the mariner for his
      responsibility in the wanton murder of the crew. What sights had Lawrence
      seen in Kut? Who were ulsed before reaching Baghdad, he the starving and
      wasting men? The English were from Dorsetshire and Norfolk, depressed
      agricultural counties, hardy specimens of the English proletariat whose
      experience was depression. There were Punjabis, Pathans. The Inland Water
      Transport Service employed in its Mesopotamian contingents men from the
      British West Indies Regiment, the Nigerian Marine Regiment, the West African
      Regiment, the Coloured Section, the Egyptian Labour Corps. Lawrence saw
      starve the motley international of an imperialist army.

      The many men, so beautiful!
      And they all dead did lie:
      And a thousand thousand slimy things
      Lived on; and so did I.

      Lawrence, clearly, would have his limitations as an imperial servant: though
      it was oil they craved, in his master's view empire was not slime!

      February 1916 finds Gandhi speaking in Karachi. Having returned to India the
      year before he vowed to be silent for a year, and only recently had he begun
      to speak out. Truth and fearlessness were his themes, as only they could
      remove the demoralizing atmosphere of sycophancy and falsity. However, these
      salutary results required not--spitting. Self-restraint was the necessary
      condition to national liberation, he taught, "when we conquer our so-called
      conquerors." Earlier that month, however, despite not--spitting, he created
      a furious row with a speech at Benares Hindu University. "It is necessary
      that our hearts have got to be touched and that our hands and feet have got
      to be moved"--the doctrine of satyagraha was activist or nothing. "In her
      impatience India has produced an army of anarchists," he continued. "I
      myself am an anarchist but of another type."

      He contrasted himself to the anarchist terrorists responsible for the
      bombing campaign which before the war had annulled the British partition of
      Bengal. "I honor the anarchist for his love of country. I honor him for his
      bravery in being willing to die for his country; but I ask him: Is killing
      honorable?" Just as the argument in front of the students was promising to
      get interesting, Miss Annie Besant, the English liberal, interrupted,
      "Please stop it." Later she explained she had noticed the CID taking notes,
      "I meant to do him a kindness and prevent the more violent interruption
      which would probably have taken place, had I remained silent." More slime.

      Gandhi may have overlapped with Gertrude Bell in Karachi, but where Gandhi
      derived nourishment from the people, she pitied them: "Swollen with wind and
      the rank mists we draw" is the phrase she remembers in April from Milton's
      Lycidias. It is from a passage about corruption between leaders and led
      which begins with what? the slime of Wolf Blitzer from the desert? a
      Pentagon briefing? Ari Fleisher?

      What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
      And when they list, their lean and flashy songs
      Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;
      The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
      But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
      Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread;
      Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
      Daily devours apace, and nothing said.

      Not a glimmer of proletarian creativity could allay the view of people as
      sheep. Milton at any rate went in dialogue with the Levellers and Diggers of
      his day, while Gertrude Bell used Milton as an another code of ruling class
      mutual recognition.

      She did not draw the parallel to the experience which the surgeon at Kut
      remembered, namely, that the cats became bolder as food became scarcer and
      they began "with privy paw" to lurk about the windows and doorways of the
      surgery. Major Barber, the English saw-bones, was not pleased by his first
      impression of Kut, "Approaching from the east, almost the first thing that
      caught the eye was a gibbet." He spent days with stretcher-bearers,
      bhisties, and women water drawers. The soldiers called the place "Messypot,"
      he tells us. Night-time shelling they called "the hate." He cursed war and
      the economic necessities that bring ulsed before reaching Baghdad, he it
      about. Famine advanced. Then came the slaughter of the beasts--a thousand
      horses, mules, camels, all except the officers' chargers, and Townshend's
      dog whose daily walk counted among Barber's duties. He composed a menu,
      reflecting the class of the rank and file.

      Potage aux Os de Cheval
      Sauterelles Sautés
      Starlings en Canapé
      Filet de mule
      Entrecote de Chameau

      For Major Barber May Day 1916 was the arrival of the hospital ship with jam,
      swag, and bubbly.

      In 29 April after a siege of four and a half months General Townshend
      lowered the Union Jack and burned it. 23,000 soldiers had been killed in
      four futile attempts to relieve the siege; then on the eve of May Day 13,000
      were taken prisoner. "It was one of the great mistakes in British military
      history," writes Barker, The Neglected War: Mesopotamia, 1914-1918. The
      prisoners? Captain Shakeshaft observed them ragged, barefooted, dying of
      dysentery. "One saw British soldiers dying with a green ooze issuing from
      their lips, their mouths fixed open, in and out of which flies walked." Many
      were contracted to railway construction for a German company working in
      Turkey. Altogether the British empire lost 40,000 casualties, concludes

      If in America the capacity to inflict terror in Iraq while simultaneously
      denying it is called Liberation, in England it goes by The Stiff Upper Lip.
      Gertrude Bell and General Townshend didn't let the side down. Despite having
      had her black silk gown rifled by pilfering hands at the Delhi P.O., she
      cheerfully wrote referring to the mulberries and blossoming pomegranates,
      "Even Basra has a burst of glory in April." As for General Townshend, he
      concluded the Terms of Surrender with this: "Finally, I asked Khalil Pacha
      to send my faithful fox-terrier "Spot" down to the British force to my
      friend Sir Wilfred Peek, so that he might reach home. He was with me in the
      Battles of Kurna, he was at Ctespiphon and in the retreat, and he killed
      many cats during the defense of Kut. He reached England safely, and I met
      him on my return to my home in Norfolk."

      Gertrude Bell would become known as "the uncrowned queen of Iraq," after the
      British took Baghdad in February 1917. She wrote in words that could come
      Ms. Robin Raphel, slated to run the Iraq trade ministry, or Ms. Barbara
      Bodine, awaiting her assignment in Wolfie of Arabia's Iraq, "we shall, I
      trust, make it a great centre of Arab civilization, a prosperity; that will
      be my job partly, I hope, and I never lose sight of it." James Connolly
      explained on St Patrick's Day 1916 "The essential meanness of the British
      Empire is that it robs under the pretence of being generous, and it enslaves
      under pretence of liberating." Hence, the flash song of liberation grates on
      the scrannel pipes of wretched straw which we know are there not to sing
      songs but to suck up you-know-what.

      In "Mesopotamia--1917" Rudyard Kipling wet his whistle, cleared his throat
      of anything that might grate, and definitely raised his voice to express
      grief and a very healthy specific --class hatred:

      They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
      The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
      But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
      Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

      Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
      When the storm is ended shall we find
      How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
      By their favor and contrivance of their kind?

      Mercifully, Kipling leaves God out of it. Plus, he demands justice, not oil,
      to compensate for the sacrifice of the young. Kipling told one half of the
      story. The other half remains to be told. Is it too late for the Subaltern
      Studies historians to recover the oral tradition of the POWs who fled,
      deserted, and escaped from Kut? Some people were ready to answer Kipling's
      two questions.

      They met in Switzerland, a center of internationalism (financiaulsed before
      reaching Baghdad, he l, artistic, and revolutionary) but unconnected by
      Internet or al-Jazeera or Robert Fisk, with the disasters between the Tigris
      and Euphrates. Their remedy for war and famine which only anti-capitalist
      revolutionaries can provide was offered up from the Alpine village of
      Kienthal. Two such different ecologies, different elevations, different
      temperatures, different flora and fauna, at Kut and Kienthal would be hard
      to imagine, and yet as human communities both in 1916 retained links with a
      non-industrial commons--the booleying of the high pastures in the latter,
      the marsh Arabs on their reeds and islands in the former. The previous
      September anti-imperialist socialists had secretly and bravely met at
      Zimmerwald. The work of such intrepid souls as Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg
      resulted in the Kienthal Manifesto of May Day 1916. The manifesto was
      preceded by debate and discussion.

      Rosa Luxemburg published her "Junius" pamphlet in the spring of 1916, as if
      with Bechtel Corportion and Baghdad in mind. "Business is flourishing upon
      the ruins. Cities are turned to rubble, whole countries into deserts,
      villages into cemeteries, whole populations into beggars .. thus stands
      bourgeois society as a roaring beast, as an orgy of anarchy, as a
      pestilential breath, devastating culture and humanity." As for the
      proletariat, "no pre-established schemas, no ritual that holds good at all
      times shows it the path that it must travel. Historical experience is its
      only teacher; its Via Dolorosa to self-liberation is covered not only with
      immeasurable suffering, but with countless mistakes."

      None were bitterer than she over the betrayal of July 1914 when the
      so-called representatives of the European international proletariat voted
      with their national belligerents, sending millions of fellow workers to
      slaughter one another. She noted that socialism is "the first popular
      movement in world history that has set as its goal, and is ordained by
      history, to establish a conscious sense in the social life of man, a
      definite plan, and thus, free will." But it does not fall like manna from
      heaven. She posed a choice: "either the triumph of imperialism and the
      destruction of all culture and, as in ancient Rome, depopulation,
      desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery. Or, the victory of socialism,
      that is, the conscious struggle of the international proletariat against
      imperialism and its method: war." Amid the slaughter of Verdun and the
      starvation of Kut, she returned to an axiom of history: human beings make
      it, the conscious historical action by conscious historical will. They did
      not pretend that peace was patriotic, nor that they could win without

      Lenin gave a speech in Switzerland in February 1916. He quoted The Appeal to
      Reason of 11 September 1915. Eugene Debs said, "I am not a capitalist
      soldier; I am a proletarian revolutionist. I do not belong to the regular
      army of the plutocracy, but to the irregular army of the people. I refuse to
      obey any command to fight from the ruling class I am opposed to every war
      but one; I am for that war with heart and soul, and this is the world-wide
      war of the social revolution. In that war I am prepared to fight in any way
      the ruling class may make necessary." Gloden Dallas & Douglas Gill, The
      Unknown Army: Mutinies in the British Army in World War I (Verso 1985) write
      that a year later, also on 11 September, the English recruits in France
      mutinously demonstrated. In Mesopotamia the soldiers organized themselves to
      return home, when ordered up country against the local population. One of
      the veterans remembered, "We refused saying that we had not enlisted for
      this purpose & as there was always trouble there, we should have had
      difficulty in getting back. We stood our ground & gained the day"

      Lenin welcomed "The Junius Pamphlet," although he argued the necessity of
      wars of national liberation. In Zürich during the spring of 1916 Lenin wrote
      Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism which would be used in the
      anti-colonial struggles of the 20th centurulsed before reaching Baghdad, he
      y--China, India, Kenya, Algeria, Vietnam. He studied the growth of
      monopolies and cartels; he studied finance capital: "It spreads its net over
      all countries of the world." He observed its dynamics: 1) "the more
      capitalism is developed the more desperate the struggle for raw materials,"
      or 2) "imperialism is, in general, a striving towards violence and
      reaction." He explained how the proletariat drew rank mist and became
      swollen with wind. Super-profits from plundering colonies enabled the
      metropolitan working classes to become opportunist and susceptible to
      nationalist appeals, permitting the betrayal of the trade unions and
      socialist parties. "It has grown ripe, overripe, and rotten," Lenin wrote.
      He noted its two fundamental weaknesses, a) it bribed its lower class into
      acquiescence, and b) its armies were recruited from subject peoples.

      Lenin lived around the corner from the Caberet Voltaire where the artists
      and musicians in the spring of 1916 thought up the name Dada for an art to
      cure the madness of the age. Ed Sanders in volume one of his beautiful
      America: A History in Verse (Black Sparrow, 2000), described an evening

      --a holy, mind-freeing rinse of nonsense
      to laugh away
      the stench of the trench
      a Rinse heard as far away as
      San Francisco

      If theirs was the rinse, Lenin gave the scrubbing. Lenin quoted Cecil
      Rhodes, "if you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists." This
      precisely was the pivot point: how to turn imperialist war into civil war.
      Here was the transition from defense to offense. Rosa Luxemburg too argued
      against the siege mentality in favor of armed, free people on'amove. You
      study Lenin and Luxemburg in that year and you do not find sectarian
      bitterness or the irreconcilable differences of gender antagonism. Among the
      many things Luxemburg and Lenin agreed on that year was denunciation of the
      Social Democrats for refusing to intercede on behalf of a comrade in the
      Cameroons who faced a death sentence for organizing an uprising against the
      war. These are comrades denouncing war, condemning betrayal of the official
      opposition, analyzing imperialism, praising the creativity of the
      working-class, and they search the world to find it.

      From these discussions came the Kienthal May Day Manifesto of 1916. If Kut
      describes a progenitor of our problem, then Kinethal describes a solution.
      It's words apply to us. Addressed to workers of town and country, "You have
      only the right to starve and to keep silent. You face the chains of the
      state of siege, the fetters of censorship, and the stale air of the dungeon.
      They try to incite you to betray your class duty and tear out of your heart
      your greatest strength, your hope of socialism."

      "The governments, the imperialist cliques, and their press tell you that it
      is necessary to hold out in order to free the oppressed nations. Of all the
      methods of deception that have been used in this war, this is the crudest.
      For some, the real aim of this universal slaughter is to maintain what they
      have seized over the centuries and conquered in many wars. Others want to
      divide up the world over again, in order to increase their possessions. They
      want to annex new territories, tear whole peoples apart and degrade them to
      the status of common serfs and slaves."

      "Courage! Remember that you are the majority and that if you so desire the
      power can be yours." By May 1916 Dubois and James Connolly had found the
      desire and the courage. It consisted of a) defense against terrorism and b)
      offense against imperialism.

      DuBois had recently written that "Africa is the prime cause of this terrible
      overturning of civilization," World War. He wrote "the white working man has
      been asked to share the spoil of exploiting 'chinks and niggers.'" Having
      invaded Haiti, Santo Domingo, Mexico, and Nicaragua, the U.S.A. grew rank
      with terror and racism. Marcus Garvey of Jamaica arrived in New York in the
      spring of 1916, asking DuBois to chair his meeting. Dubois called foulsed
      before reaching Baghdad, he r a revolution, "democracy in determining income
      is the next inevitable step to democracy in political power." When the
      Easter rebels were called fools, DuBois appealed to the heavens, "would to
      God some of us had sense enough to be fools!" May Day at DuBois' The Crisis
      was entirely occupied in the struggle against lynching. It inveighed against
      the terrorism in the U.S.A. The April issue was against the lynching of six
      men in Georgia, while the next issue, on "The Waco Horror," reproduced the
      most searing photographs of the century, the charred stumps of mutilated,
      burned, and hanged Texas proletarians.

      James Connolly reiterated, A Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight! He
      discovered the war profiteers. He analyzed the economic incentives for
      joining up (unemployment + cash for women who sent their husbands to war).
      He berated the union bureaucrats and praised the Dublin dockers and London
      seamen. He recalled British robbery of Irish common lands, and in that
      stroke of genius which operates by observing the obvious he noted that "the
      spirit of adventure" must be counted a revolutionary force. He doubted that
      the political leprosy of militarism could be excised without the red tide of
      war. Opportunities are for those who seize them, and so, on to Easter.

      The rule of insurrection is audacity, audacity, audacity! So, despite the
      capture on Sunday of Roger Casement and the loss of the arms he was shipping
      from Germany, the Easter Rising commenced anyway on Monday, 24 April 1916,
      asserting the right of the men and women of Ireland to its ownership, in the
      oft-reprinted proclamation. Though crushed in less than a week, its
      reverberations thrilled the oppressed from Jamaica to Bengal. In Dublin
      Connie Markievicz was second-in-command at Stephen's Green. The Easter
      rising seized buildings about the town which communicated with one another
      by means of bicyclists. To her disappointment she was spared execution owing
      to her gender, and instead awakened on May Day in her cell at Kilmainham
      Gaol to the sound of rifle reports as her comrades were executed by firing
      squad. They removed her to prison in England where she amused the
      bread-and-water gang by extensively reciting from The Inferno, as well as
      her own words:

      Dead hearts, dead dreams, dead days of ecstasy,
      Can you not live again?
      Nay, for we never died

      Joe Hill, the song writer, was shot on 19 November 1915. James Larkin came
      over from Dublin for the funeral where they sang his popular, "The Rebel

      There are women of many descriptions
      In this queer world, as every one knows,
      Some are living in beautiful mansions,
      And are wearing the finest of clothes.
      These are blue-blooded queens and princesses
      Who have charms made of diamonds and pearls:
      But the only and Thoroughbred Lady
      Is the Rebel Girl.

      The proletarian revolution is not the restoration of matriarchy, though it
      definitely entails the defeat of patriarchy and Hausfrauiszierung (to use
      the phrase of Maria Miess). And we can easily understand, given the
      leadership of the women of the planet on the great days of February 15 and
      March 22, that the term 'proletarian,' etymologically speaking, meant the
      women or breeders of empire, but now taking steps to realize our planetary
      power as a class.

      We have looked back with the angel of history--at the low siege, surrender,
      and slaughter at Kut, and at the high Alpine manifesto of proletarian
      internationalism of Kienthal, and still the wind blows us into the future,
      which the ruins of the libraries of Baghdad and the bleeding of funds for
      the municipal libraries in the USA, have not yet destroyed, for we take the
      treasures with us. The coincidences of May Day (Kut and Kienthal) like the
      coincidences of September 11 (mutiny and terror) are not magic, though they
      need to be discovered; they arise merely from probabilities. May Day is one
      day in 365. 11 September is another rotation of the planet. As the earth
      rotates prior to our revoulsed before reaching Baghdad, he lution, these are
      the constants: imperialism and the struggle against it, capitalism and the
      struggle against it, capital punishment and the struggle against it.
      Meanwhile, against the slime, Gandhi said clean up your act.

      Against the flash song, Lenin offered economic analysis. Against terror,
      DuBois offered unflinching truth. Against the swollen wind and rank mist of
      patriotism, Red Rosa offered the International. Against all the odds, James
      Connolly offered audacity. Against defeat, Joe Hill offered laughter.

      We learn from Franklin Rosemont's magnificent Joe Hill: The IWW & the Making
      of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture (Charles Kerr, 2003) that the
      cremated ashes of Joe Hill were put in envelopes and sent to every IWW local
      in every country of the world --Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe --and
      were released to the breezes on May Day 1916. For the followers of the
      sky-gods, Jahweh and Allah, we laugh with Joe Hill,

      You will eat, bye and bye,
      In that glorious land above the sky;
      Work and pray, live on hay,
      You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

      As for the dirt-gods, Mammon and Moloch, not having mopped them up, we have
      not yet earned our laugh.

      Peter Linebaugh teaches history at Bard College. He is the author of the
      London Hanged and The Many-headed Hydra. He can be reached at:
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