The Death of 'Stalin's Songbird'

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Revmitchell, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Along with countless other sensible people, I have often bristled at the mindless deification of Pete Seeger, the nonagenarian folk singer who died yesterday at age 94. I have no doubt that Seeger was a lovely man (a mutual friend, who became a dedicated enemy of Seeger’s far-left politics, once assured me that he was), nor can one argue with his outsized influence on American music. And we all remember good-but-overpraised songs like If I Had a Hammer and the treacly classic Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

    But as the encomiums threaten to overwhelm, it’s important to remember that Seeger, once an avowed Stalinist, was a political singer devoted to a sinister political system--a position he held long after the Soviet experiment drenched itself in blood and collapsed in ignominy. So while we wistfully recall the foot-stomping versions of This Land is Your Land, let us not forget Seeger’s musical assaults on the supposedly warmongering F.D.R. (see the justly forgotten Ballad of October 16th), featured on a record presciently released on the very day the Nazi-Soviet Pact collapsed. As Moscow instantly shifted its position from fascist accommodationism to fighting what it had previously denounced as a war for big business, Seeger and his fellow folkies in the Almanac Singers recalled the record and retooled their allegiances. It was soon replaced by a series of pro-war, pro-F.D.R. songs. Art must be used in service of the people—and is always subject to the vicissitudes of the party line.

    And few, if any, obituarists have mentioned the forgotten classic Hey Zhankoye, a bizarre bit of Stalinist agitprop Seeger translated from Yiddish, recorded with the Berry Sisters, and frequently revisited during subsequent live performances. Historian Ron Radosh, a former banjo student of Seeger's, reminds us that as Stalin cranked up his brutal post-war anti-Semitic pogroms, he was singing of a collective farm (“paradise”) where Soviet Jews lived like kings:

    There's a little railroad depot known quite well
    By all the people
    Called Zhankoye, Dzhan, Dzhan, Dzahn.
    Now if you look for paradise
    You'll see it there before your eyes
    Stop your search and go no further on
    There we have a collective farm
    All run by husky Jewish arms
    At Zhankoye, dzhan, dzhan, dzhan

    It’s no surprise that a man who believed the purge trials—during which approximately a million innocents were executed—were rough but necessary justice would also ignore the brutal, sustained, and widely-known campaign against Soviet Jewry.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/29/the-death-of-stalin-s-songbird0.html
     
  2. Gina B

    Gina B
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    It's a bit hard to take seriously the opinion of a man who waits for another man to die at the age of 94, then viciously attacks the dead man. How cowardly!

    The writer of this piece is way out of line is his feigned "surprise" that the obituaries do not present an analysis of aspects of the man's life that could be deemed negative. What type of person would do such a thing?
     
  3. JohnDeereFan

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    Children everywhere sing This Land is Your Land and very few of their parents, if any, know that it was a Marxist anthem against the ownership of private property.

    By most accounts, he was a nice man, a lovable eccentric. But his politics were terrible and he supported tyrants and the brutal enslavement of millions
     
  4. Walguy

    Walguy
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    Just for the sake of accuracy here, 'This Land Is Your Land' was actually written by Woody Guthrie, not Pete Seeger.
     
  5. thisnumbersdisconnected

    thisnumbersdisconnected
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    Which is not much better a source for a song than Pinko Seeger. They were both communists. Look at some of the cast-off lyrics Guthrie thought better of putting into his original recording of the song.
     
  6. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy
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    Didn't you all like Uncle Joe Stalin?

    What about card-carrying commie Seeger's song If I Had a Hammer and a Sickle?
     
  7. thisnumbersdisconnected

    thisnumbersdisconnected
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    Interesting that Seeger called it "the hammer of justice" whereas the statue "Blind Justice" holds scales to that purpose, with the sword in abeyance just in case it's needed. Pinko Seeger and his communist buddies always were secretly heavy-handed. :laugh:
     
  8. JohnDeereFan

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    You're right. I knew that, but I read a story about Guthrie, Seeger, and the actor, Will Geer, in which they would perform it together at various labor and political rallies and guess I got my facts confused.

    Thanks for the correction.
     

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