Cutting through the bullshit.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

A is for Alienation

This morning, Ratbert made this profound observation.

Which reminded me of Alex Glasgow’s classic song. It’s actually on Rick Kuhn’s Marxism page, but Google took me to this other page first.

The Socialist ABC
(by Alex Glasgow) (PRS)

When that I was and a little, tiny boy,
Me daddy said to me,
'The time has come, me bonny, bonny bairn,
To learn your ABC.'

Now Daddy was a lodge chairman
In the coalfields of the Tyne
And his ABC was different
From the Enid Blyton kind.

He sang, 'A is for Alienation
That made me the man that I am, and

B's for the Boss who's a Bastard,
A Bourgeois who don't give a damn.

C is for Capitalism,
The bosses' reactionary creed, and

D's for Dictatorship, laddie,
But the best proletarian breed.

E is for Exploitation
That workers have suffered so long, and

F is for old Ludwig Feuerbach,
The first one to say it was wrong.

G is all Gerrymanderers,
Like Lord Muck and Sir Whatsisname, and

H is the Hell that they'll go to
When the workers have kindled the flame.

I's for Imperialism,
And America's kind is the worst, and

J is for sweet Jingoism,
That the Tories all think of the first.

K is for good old Kier Hardy,
Who fought out the working class fight, and

L is for Vladimir Lenin,
Who showed him the left was all right.

M is of course for Karl Marx,
The daddy and the mommy of them all, and

N is for Nationalisation -
Without it we'd tumble and fall.

O is for Overproduction,
That capitalist economy brings, and

P is for all Private Property,
The greatest of all of the sins.

Q's for the Quid pro quo,
That we'll deal out so well and so soon, when

R for Revolution is shouted and
The Red Flag becomes the top tune.

S is for Sad Stalinism
That gave us all such a bad name, and

T is for Trotsky, the hero,
Who had to take all of the blame.

U's for the Union of Workers -
The Union will stand to the end, and

V is for Vodka, yes, Vodka,
The vun drink that vont bring the bends.

W's for all Willing Workers,
And that's where the memory fades,

For X, Y, and Zed,' my dear daddy said,
'Will be written on the street barricades.'

Now that I'm not a little tiny boy,
Me daddy says to me,
'Please try to forget those thing that I said,
Especially the ABC.'

For daddy is no longer a union man,
And he's had to change his plea.
His alphabet is different now,
Since they made him a Labour MP.

And that inevitably reminded me that:

I hate the capitalist system,
And I’ll tell you the reason why:
It has caused me so much suffering,
And my dearest friends to die.

Well, I know you all are wondering
What it has done to me.
Well I am going to tell you
That my husband has TB.

Brought on by hard work and low wages,
And never enough to eat,
From going cold and hungry,
With no shoes upon his feet.

My husband was a coal miner
Who worked hard and risked his life,
Just trying to support three children,
Himself, his mother and wife.

Well I had a blue-eyed baby
Was the darling of my heart.
But from my little darling
Her mother had to part.

While the rich and mighty capitalist
Goes dressed goes dressed in jewels and silk,
My darling blue-eyed baby
Has died for the want of milk.

Well they call this the land of plenty,
And for them I guess it’s true,
For the rich and mighty capitalist,
Not for workers like me and you.

Well what can we do about it
To these men of power and light?
Well I tell you, Mr Capitalist,
We are going to fight, fight, fight!

(Words and music by © 1965 Sara Ogan Gunning)

Those are the lyrics I transcribed from the liner notes of Barbara Dane’s eponymous 1965 album. Sarah Ogan Gunning’s original lyrics for a version she recorded entitled, ‘I hate the company bosses’, are also online.

Eli Stephens has been posting some ancient classic songs from his amazing collection of vinyl over at Left I on the news. If you’ve never heard these songs, watch his blog. Maybe he’ll put the audio up some time.

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