Category Archives: Arts

The Great Coronavirus Scare of 2020: A Comedy in One Act

[Scene: a typical working-class home in the US in 2025, three years after the US workers socialist revolution establishes the United Socialist States of America – from Canada to Chile]

Grampaaaaa!

Hi sweet pea! How was school today? Learn anything interesting?

Uhhh… ummmm… no. Oh, yeah! Today in history class Mrs. Schofield taught us about the Great Coronavirus Scare of 2020! I’m glad I wasn’t born when that happened. The anniversary of it is today! Were you in the Great Coronavirus Scare, grampa?

Oh yes! Those were awful times! I was just about your age when the Coronavirus hit back in ‘20.

Mrs. Schofield said the whole city of Chicago was shut down for almost a month!

The whole COUNTRY was shut down for almost a month! It was terrible! People were out of work, everything shut down. Couldn’t even go out for a cup of coffee or to a restaurant for breakfast. Folks started hoarding toilet paper…

Ha ha ha! That was funny! Boy people sure were stupid back then weren’t they? No one would do that today!

Watch it there, girl! I was alive back then and so was your grandma, and Uncle John and Aunt Mary! WE weren’t ALL stupid as that!

You and Uncle John and Aunt Mary didn’t hoard toilet paper, did you, Grampa?

[Long pause.]

No! Of course we didn’t! But lots of other people did! And they weren’t all stupid! They hoarded water, too. And frozen waffles!

Frozen waffles! Hahahahahahahahaaaaa! That’s stupid!

[Long pause]

That’s not a nice thing to say! That was way back before the Revolution when 75% of the country still believed in angels! We weren’t stupid, we were just ignorant back then. Heck, that was even before we figured out that we could have more than two political parties at a time! We were still stuck voting for the Republicans, then the Democrats, then the Republicans again… heh heh! [Shakes his head sadly]

I’m glad I didn’t live way back then. It must have been terrible! So grampa, how did the Coronavirus Scare finally end?

Well most everyone was scared to death of the virus. All the newspapers back then could print all the lies they could fit on a webpage. There were rumors that 2 million people would die in the USA alone…

TWO MILLION PEOPLE? But grampa, only 25 thousand died in the whole WORLD! And they were mostly really old and really sick before they got the virus! Mrs. Schofield said everyone was sick all the time back then… before we even had Medicare for everyone!

Yes but we didn’t get Medicare for All until after the Revolution. You asked how the Coronavirus Scare ended. That was way before the Revolution.

Oh yeah, right. So how did it end?

Well, we were all so confused by the lies that were being told by the politicians and this gang of thick-headed health-care “experts” scaring us with the idea that if we didn’t shut down the whole world economy we’d lose 500,000 or even 2 million people! They had us running around like chickens with our heads cut off!

So then what happened?

Well the President had just gone on TV to tell us that we were all going to have to stay out of work for as much as four months, and that the unemployment rate was going to be higher than in the Great Depression, and the doctor who was the head of the Centers for Disease Control came on and said if we didn’t all stay in our homes for the next three months straight, two million of us were gonna die!

No way!

Yes, that’s what they told us! And the news kept on telling us every day how many people had died the past 24 hours and the numbers kept on getting higher and higher every day…

But that wasn’t true!

But we didn’t know that at the time, honey! We still trusted the old government! We believed what they told us and didn’t question anything back then. Well, most of us didn’t…

So how did it end then?

Well the news kept saying that hundreds of people were dying in every state and on and on… but then some folks on social media noticed…

You mean on Twitter, don’t you grampa?

Yes on Twitter and some of the others that aren’t around anymore. They noticed that the funeral home parking lots were empty all over the place! If there were all these people dying, why were the funeral homes not running 24 hours a day? So they started asking questions…

Mrs. Schofield said they started to pay attention to the… base fatality rate I think?

Case fatality rates. Yes. We’d just been listening to the “experts” all the time and we hadn’t even tried to question their scary stories. We were so scared that we just believed them and did what they told us to do! But once we started asking questions their whole story started to unravel. Turned out they had been full of beans the whole time! They scared the country so bad the economy was shut down for three weeks and it started a recession that lasted 3 years! And until the debts were repudiated ten years later – at the time of the Revolution – we were still paying them loans off to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year!

Then what happened grampa?

Well the word started getting around that the politicians in both parties had been telling us a bunch of nonsense the whole time, and at first a few people started breaking the quarantines and then more and more and then the whole world rose up and told all the politicians to go to Hell!

That was the beginning of the Revolution! I wish I could have been there that day! That must have been fun!

It was fun at first. But then folks got so carried away with themselves that they took their guns out and started shooting them in the air in celebration…

Oh no! What happened?

Well, they killed more people in just a few hours that night than the coronavirus and the flu combined killed that entire year. Killed even more people than died in the Revolution, as it turned out. It was a mess…

That was stupid! You didn’t shoot anyone that night did you grampa?

[Long pause]

No… no… I don’t think so. [Pause] Well, I told you we were ignorant back then! We didn’t know any better! But we finally woke up and a bunch of folks formed some revolutionary socialist workers parties and we ended up kicking all those worthless old capitalist parties to the curb. But that’s an even longer story and it’s time for dinner pretty soon…

That’s when comrades Britney Spears and Russell Brand joined forces and led the Revolution to victory, right, Grampa?

Who told you that?

Mrs. Schofield!

Well that’s the craziest thing I ever… it wasn’t like that at all! Your teacher must be a DemSocialist!

No, she’s with Socialist Alternative… I think. Or maybe Worker’s World. [Looks at the newspaper on the coffee table.]  Grampa… what does “Ip Chee” mean?

IWPCHI? That’s the party that really led the Revolution! Your grandma and I joined back in ‘21. Well, like I said, it’s a long story. I’ll tell you about all that after dinner! We’re having microwave waffles and bottled water and tater tots in celebration of The Day of the Great Awakening!

I love tater tots! Will we have lots of fried baloney too?

It’s The Day of the Great Awakening! Of course there’ll be lots of fried bologna!

And Corn Dogs? Hot Pockets, too? Frozen pizza and Ramen noodles?

Ha ha ha! All you can eat! Last one to the dining room is a rotten old Democrat!

[They run to the dining room, laughing. The End.]

EXCLUSIVE: Translation of French womens’ collective’s rebuttal to excesses of the #metoo movement

We republish here our (rather poor) machine translation (supplemented (?) by our own additions) of the recent declaration of French women, led by Catherine Deneuve, in opposition to the reactionary aspects of the anti-sexual-harassment #metoo movement launched in the US in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

This article originally appeared in the French newspaper “Le Monde” [http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/01/09/nous-defendons-une-liberte-d-importuner-indispensable-a-la-liberte-sexuelle_5239134_3232.html].  Our translation was done primarily by the Microsoft/Bing Translator and was then improved (we hope) by our own additional interpretations of the meanings of difficult-to-translate French vernacular.  Our additions are in brackets.

We agree substantially that the direction in which the #metoo movement is heading is fundamentally reactionary and seeks to do away with the rights of the accused while simultaneously mandating that every investigation into a sexual assault allegation should “start by believing” the accuser.  This medieval concept of “justice” has already claimed the careers and even the lives of several people who have been convicted in the press on the basis of mere accusations of having committed “sexual assault”.  There are also moves afoot by facile politicians to capitalize on the #metoo hysteria by promulgating reactionary laws that will raise the age of consent – to 18 or 20! – and to broaden the definition of “rape” to include all kinds of what have long been considered to be mere sexual misdemeanors.  Also their is a movement afoot to make unsolicited comments to women an illegal act!  Truly, the USA is becoming the world’s largest open insane asylum; and the malicious tentacles of its anti-sex witch-hunters are crossing borders and influencing similar movements around the world.  The French women who published this declaration are responding to not just the US #metoo movement but to attacks on the rights of artists and writers being launched by right-wing politicians in France who are seeking to advance their careers on this wave of anti-sex puritanism sweeping the globe.

Sexual harassment and sexual violence is all too real – and it is far too serious to be trifled with by cheap political hacks of the left and right who seek to further their careers by launching a campaign to straightjacket normal human sexual behavior under the pretense of defending women from sexual assault.  While the new determination of women to aggressively fight sexual harassment in the workplace and on the streets is a very positive development, this goal can not be successfully pursued by criminalizing normal human sexual behavior, even if that behavior can be often annoying and obnoxious.  Criminalizing such things as clumsy street pick-up attempts or “unwanted touching” as “sexual assaults” or “sexual harassment” will make life more miserable for everyone and will only fill our already overcrowded prisons with more innocent people.  Normal human sexual behavior, though often awkward, messy and obnoxious, must never be criminalized.  We agree with the French women’s collective and their declaration: “We defend the freedom to annoy, indispensable to sexual freedom”!

— IWPCHI

Note: If we find a better translation, we’ll print it here; if you find one please send it to us.

*************************

“We defend a freedom of annoyance, indispensable to sexual freedom”

Rape is a crime. But the insistent or clumsy [pick-up move] is not a misdemeanor, nor gallantry a macho aggression.

In the aftermath of the Weinstein case, there was a legitimate awareness of sexual violence against women, particularly in the professional context, where some men abused their power. It was necessary. But this liberation turns today [in]to its opposite: if one wishes to be intimate one must speak the right way; those who annoy us must be silenced; and those who refuse to bow to such injunctions are regarded as treacherous accomplices!

But it is pure puritanism to borrow, in the name of a so-called general good, the arguments of the protection of women and their emancipation to better chain them to the status of eternal victims, poor little things under the influence of phallocratic demons, like [in] the good old days of witchcraft.

Denunciations and indictments

In fact, #metoo has brought [to] the press and social networks a campaign of public denunciations and indictments of individuals who, without being given the opportunity to answer or defend themselves, have been placed exactly on the same plane as sexual aggressors. This hasty justice already has its victims, men sanctioned in the exercise of their profession, forced to resign, etc., when their only wrong was to have touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss, talked about “intimate” things at a business dinner or to have sent messages with sexual [connotations] to a woman in whom the attraction was not reciprocal.

This fever to send the “pigs” to the slaughterhouse, far from helping women to empower themselves, actually serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom: religious extremists, the worst reactionaries and those who believe, in the name of a substantially Victorian value and the morality that goes with it, that women are “[special]” beings, children with adult faces, [needing] to be protected.

Now, men are summoned to [rack] their brains and to find, in the depths of their retrospective consciousness, an “inappropriate behaviour” that they might have had […] ten, twenty or thirty years ago, and of which they should repent. The public confession, the incursion of self-proclaimed prosecutors into the private sphere, is setting up a totalitarian climate of society.

The cleansing wave does not seem to know any limits. There, a nude of Egon Schiele is censored on a poster; Here there are calls for the removal of a painting of Balthus from a museum on the grounds that it would be an apology of paedophilia; In the confusion of the man and of the work, one asks for the ban of the retrospective on Roman Polanski at the film library and we get the postponement of that devoted to Jean-Claude Brisseau. One academic judges the film Blow-Up, by Michelangelo Antonioni, “misogynist” and “unacceptable”. In the light of this revisionism, John Ford (The Prisoner of the desert) and even Nicolas Poussin (the abduction of the Sabines) are not far away.

Already, some publishers are asking some of us to make our male characters less “sexist”, to talk about sexuality and love with less of an imbalance or to make sure that the “traumas suffered by the female characters” are rendered More obvious! On the brink of the ridiculous, a proposed bill in Sweden wants to impose a consent expressly notified to any candidate for sexual intercourse! One more effort and two adults who will want to have sex together must first check through an “app” of their phone a document in which the practices they accept and those they refuse will be duly listed.

Indispensable Freedom to offend

The philosopher Ruwen Ogien defended a freedom to offend indispensable to artistic creation. Similarly, we are defending a freedom of annoyance, indispensable to sexual freedom. We are now sufficiently warned to admit that sexual impulse is by nature offensive and Savage, but we are also sufficiently perceptive to not confuse an awkward pass and sexual assault.

Above all, we are aware that the human person is not a monolith: A woman can, on the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a “slut” or a vile accomplice of patriarchy. She can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but does not feel traumatized forever by a [lecher] in the subway, even if this is considered a misdemeanor. [She] can even consider it as the expression of a great sexual misery, even as a non-event.

As women, we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism which, beyond the denunciation of abuse of power, takes the appearance of a hatred of men and [male] sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say no to a sexual proposition does not [exist] without the freedom to annoy. And we consider that it is necessary to be able to respond to this freedom of annoyance other than by locking ourselves in the role of prey.

For those of us who have chosen to have children, we feel that it makes more sense to raise our daughters so that they are sufficiently informed and aware to be able to live their lives fully without being intimidated or [racked with guilt].

Accidents that may affect a woman’s body do not necessarily [impugn] her dignity and must not […] necessarily make her a perpetual victim. Because we are not reducible to our bodies. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom that we cherish is not without risk or without responsibility.

The editors of this text are: Sarah Chiche (writer, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst), Catherine Millet (art critic, writer), Catherine Robbe-Grillet (actress and writer), Peggy Sastre (author, journalist and translator), Abnousse Shalmani (writer and journalist).

[Co-signers to this declaration]: Kathy Alliou (curator), Marie-Laure Bernadac (honorary general curator), Stéphanie Blake (author of children’s books), Ingrid Caven (actress and singer), Catherine Deneuve (actress), Gloria Friedmann ( visual artist), Cécile Guilbert (writer), Brigitte Jaques-Wajeman (director), Claudine Junien (geneticist), Brigitte Lahaie (actress and radio presenter), Elisabeth Lévy (Director of the writing of the Causer), Joëlle Losfeld ( Editor), Sophie de Menthon (President of the Mouvement ETHIC), Marie Sellier (author, president of the Society of the people of letters).

[Full list of signers of the declaration:]  Les-signataires-de-La-tribune (PDF)

 

 

 

Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Present Meek Plea to Trump Flunky Pence – Transcript

We publish here our transcription of the post-performance address given on behalf of the cast and writers of ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ to Vice President-elect Mike Pence on 18 November 2016.  We produced it from the New York Times video copy of the event.  Though it appears that actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who gave the address on behalf of the cast and writers of the show, made somewhat more extensive remarks, the video ends before he appears to finish his statement.  We have been unable to find a copy of the video which shows the entire event through to the cast walking off the stage.

Many people on the Internet are decrying the fact that actors would dare to break the “fourth wall” between the audience and the performers in a stage performance in this manner and act as if this has never been done before.  Actually it has happened on many occasions, particularly before and after performances.  Also there have been commentators who seem to believe that the address to Pence was some kind of rude political attack intended to embarrass or humiliate Pence.  In reality, Mr. Dixon took great pains to stop any booing of Pence at the beginning of the address and delivered the address in a very respectful if direct manner.  The video shows that if anyone objected to the cast addressing Pence so directly they were in the minority: the vast majority of the audience cheers loudly in favor of the political points that are made.

The political points made by Dixon on behalf of the cast simply consist of pathetic appeals to a man who has been appointed Vice-President by the new President-elect Trump who is busy assembling the whitest, most male-dominated Presidential cabinet in almost 40 years!  “We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new Administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents – or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir ” said Dixon.

What a fine example of the impotent method of political shucking and jiving (preferred by US liberals) of “speaking truth to power” in the manner of an obedient if somewhat uppity servant who first declares his respect for the person he is addressing and then makes a pathetic plea to the King’s representative for compassion and understanding of the hopes and dreams of the downtrodden and dispossessed – just as it would have been done during the historic period in which ‘Hamilton’ is set!   The US working class is almost 200 million strong… yet once again we see a de facto representative of the US working class approaching his “social betters” – the capitalist class representative Pence, representing a mere 10% of the US population at best! – hat in hand, pathetically begging our “masters” to treat us kindly… rather than taking the revolutionary road of standing up and overthrowing the racist ruling capitalist class of the USA that Trump and Pence represent!  The numerically tiny US capitalist class who fantasize about returning the USA to the “Good Old Days(TM)” of genocide against the Native Americans and the theft of their lands, white supremacy, total subordination of women to “the menfolk”, slavery and child labor and the ruthless crushing of every attempt of the workers and slaves to fight for their “inalienable rights” that existed – then and now – only on paper!   The fact is that the integrated US working class in 2016 and our immigrant sisters and brothers have no rights that the capitalist class is “bound to respect”; and the fact that the US capitalist class has seen fit to allow Donald Trump and his gang of white supremacist scum to occupy the highest office in the land proves this point beyond doubt!  Anyone who can’t see this is either willfully blind or an imbecile.

What the US working class needs is not shameful “representatives” who present shamefully weak petitions to the “rightful rulers” of the capitalist class but heroic revolutionaries like Lenin’s Bolsheviks who presented their petitions to the Tsar and his hangmen on the ends of bayonets!  These scum who want to impose a racist, capitalist, white supremacist pig like Trump as President of the United States are throwing down a gauntlet to the working classes of the US and the world!  “If you don’t like living in our racist, white supremacist, anti-union America you can get the hell out of ‘our’ country!” they declare!  And they are preparing to unleash their fascist shock troops to intimidate and terrorize those who dare to oppose them!  The rising US fascist threat must be crushed in the egg; it will take a militant, Trotskyist-led workers movement to do it – and the US working class have barely begun that tremendous work!  Don’t you think it’s high time you got off your knees and started to fight for your rights, sister and brother workers instead of begging your mortal enemies to love you and respect you?

This is no time for presenting timid petitions to King Drumpf I, but for organizing a revolutionary Trotskyist workers party that will fight for an egalitarian socialist workers republic to replace this deeply corrupt, senile, revanchist, racist dinosaur US capitalist class and its rotten economic system that is threatening to destroy the unity of the world’s working classes and even the entire planet!  You want your rights as citizens to be defended now and forever more?  Then stop begging your enemies to do it for you and prepare to create a revolutionary workers government under which your “inalienable rights” – which exist only on paper under capitalism – to become full and permanent under a workers’ republican government!  When we say that “Capitalism must die so that the working class may live!” we are not just spouting a slogan: we are stating a harsh fact, one which you had better come to understand before it’s too late.  To limit the US working class – 200 million strong – to the pathetic role of merely “speaking truth to power” – the alleged “power” of at most 30 million greedhead capitalists – is to accept the status of loyal slaves and to make it a permanent fact of our political lives!  What could be more cowardly?  We don’t want to petition “King Trump” or merely to “speak truth to power” to his flunky ministers like Pence: we want to overthrow the despotic racist regime itself:  Trump and his entire rotten class and their capitalist system.   If the revolutionaries of 1776 had stupidly limited their struggle to merely “speaking truth to power” we’d still be living under a monarchy!  But they were NOT cowards; they were not content to “keep their place” as loyal subjects of the King, being forced to accede to his every decree and command like stupid slaves!  We need to build a political party of the working class that is energised by the same kind of revolutionary spirit that animated the likes of immigrant political theoretician Thomas Paine, Daniel Shays, John Brown, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and the communist men and women who fought to build the US trade unions and the civil rights movement in the 1930s!

“Workers of the World, Unite!”

— IWPCHI

********************************************************

NY Times Video – Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Present Meek Plea to Trump Flunky Pence

Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Addresses VP Elect Mike Pence After Performance – Complete transcript by IWPCHI, with notes in brackets by IWPCHI.

[Transcribed by IWPCHI from NY Times video of event. Speech delivered by actor Brandon Victor Dixon]

[Cast on stage taking final bows. Wild applause and cheering. Pence not visible during video.]

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us tonight. You know, we had a guest in the audience this evening [light laughter throughout audience] And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments [one or two people boo, and apparently derisive comments anticipating tenor of speech can be heard] … there’s nothing to boo here ladies and gentlemen; there’s nothing to boo here [light applause] we’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a little message for you sir [Dixon reaches for prepared address in his pocket] and we hope that you will hear us out. [Opens up paper with prepared address and prepares to read it] … and I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and Tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide, O.K.? [Reads: audience completely silent] ‘Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at “Hamilton: An American Musical”. We really do. We, sir – we – are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new Administration will not protect us [applause and cheering, some boos] our planet, our children, our parents – or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. [Audience silent again]. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of *all* of us. [Cheering] *All* of us. [Loud, sustained applause and cheering from audience. No booing. Dixon continues through loud applause:] Again we truly thank you for sharing this show: this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations. [Loud applause and cheering. Video ends.]

IWPCHI