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Looking Back on “Ace In The Hole”

Our local friend Joseph Zimmermann is back with another entry in his “Movies You Might Have Missed” series – this time profiling the 1951 Kirk Douglas vehicle Ace In The Hole.  Directed by the incomparable Billy Wilder, Ace In The Hole is concerned with a big city news writer who has knocked down to a small paper in New Mexico.  There, he callously sensationalizes a dire event for his personal gain.  Shot as a typically-grim film noir, Wilder’s film was noticeably cynical about the business of news – an unpopular opinion to have at time when newspapers were generally the gateway to filmgoers.

Upon it’s release the picture was not a success. The gloomy portrayal of the cynical manipulation of events for private gain, indeed with a man’s life at stake, was too dark a commentary on the shabby business of corrupt enterprise under capitalism. It’s message resonates just as strongly today however, for as long as the spirit of private profit and competition motivate man rather than mutual cooperation then we will continue to witness sad commentaries such as these, not only in the movies, but in our society.

Read Zimmermann’s entire article over at People’s World.


Sam Webb on Employment Under Capitalism

Recently, the Phi Kappa Literacy Society at the University of Georgia hosted a debate structured around one question: is full employment possible under capitalism?  Sam Webb, the CPUSA chairman, was invited to participate in the debate, along with Greg Morin from the Libertarian Party of Georgia.

An article over at People’s World profiles the interesting historical circumstances surrounding the debate as well as Sam Webb’s complete transcript.  Please click here to view the People’s World writeup.

The full debate has been embedded below for your viewing pleasure!

The Debate That Never Happened, courtesy of Phi Kappa Literary Society


Review: “The Band’s Visit”

From time to time, CPWisconsin likes to highlight culturally significant works that relate to both our cause and history.  Over at People’s World, writer Joseph Zimmermann reviews and analyzes The Band’s Visit, a 2007 Israeli film concerning the exploits of an Egyptian orchestral band stranded in a remote Israeli town.

The Band’s Visit is a gentle film from a part of the world so often associated with conflict and discord. The film is also an observant and honest portrayal of small town life, as well as the challenges our comfort level faces when confronted with both unfamiliar surroundings and unfamiliar people. In an amusing scene, one of the band members sits slurping soup in a tiny cafe. As he dines he notices that hanging near his head is a framed photograph of an Israeli tank at war. When no one is looking he hangs his hat on the wall to obscure it.

Read the full review at People’s World by clicking here.


What They Say…What We Say

“There appears two distinct classes, rich and poor, the oppressors and the oppressed, those that live by their own labor and those that live by the labor of others.”

– The Workingmen’s Political Association of Penn Township, Pennsylvannia, as reported in Mechanics’ Free Press, June 5, 1830

“For many decades Communists were the only political group in South Africa who were prepared to treat Africans as human beings and their equals; who were prepared to eat with us; talk with us, live with us, and work with us.  They were the only political group which was prepared to work with the Africans for attainment of political rights and a stake in society.  Because of this, there are many Africans who, today, tend to equate freedom with communism.”

– Nelson Mandela

“There isn’t a country that spits out as much moralistic, lofty, idealistic, sanctimonious rubbish as the United States.”

– Vladimir Mayakovsky, My discovery of America

“The middle class is disappearing and there’s a highway into poverty and not even a sidewalk to get out. “

– Suze Orman, host, America’s Money Class with Suze Orman

“If what we’ve watched here is democracy, it ain’t much”

– Chris Matthews, Hardball, commenting on the Iowa Caucus

“Capitalism is a lot like surgery, it’s necessary, but you don’t want to look at it up close”

– George Will, ABC’s This Week

“No elective institution or representative assembly can be can be regarded as being truly democratic and really representative of the people’s will unless the electors’ right to recall those elected is accepted and exercised. This is a fundamental principle of true democracy…” 

 – V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 26,

“I am for you because you have held fast to the three elements of human liberty – free speech, a free press and freedom of assemblage. You understand that to sweep away the rights of the people by legislation and force is not progress, it is not justice but is decadence.”

– Helen Keller to Sen. Robert LaFollette

“Nearly every industry festers with occupational diseases, and these reap a harvest of suffering and death among the workers.I have seen much of workers being ruthlessly ruined in health for the sake of employers’ profits”

– William Z. Foster, Pages from a Workers Life


“The Saint of Chicago”: Frank Lumpkin

In the Midwest, we’ve been blessed with many inspiring working class heroes, but few have led the remarkable life that Frank Lumpkin did.  On March 1, 2010, Frank passed away at the age of 93 and we lost a courageous fighter for workers rights.  Though Frank called Chicago home for many years, his connection to Wisconsin is profound and long-lasting.  His fight against Wisconsin Steel lasted nearly seventeen years and culminated in a victory for the 3000 workers.

Lumpkin finally landed a job at Wisconsin Steel, owned by International Harvester, and worked there for 30 years as a chipper, scarfer and millwright.  In March 1980, over 3,000 workers arrived at work to find the gates padlocked. International Harvester, through sham moves, had “sold” the company to Envirodyne to avoid paying pensions. In addition, the bank that handled the payroll had stolen the workers’ final pay by not honoring the checks.  Rather than go home quietly, the Save Our Jobs Committee was born and the workers fought. Lumpkin led them against an array of powerful forces and corrupt politicians backed by the mob. They marched and protested from city hall, to the state legislature and Congress.  From the start, Lumpkin never, ever considered the possibility of giving up. For 17 years the workers fought refusing nothing less than victory, which finally came in, winning $17 million in stolen pension money that was distributed to the workers. For that he became known as the “Saint of Chicago.”

Today, we remember all the sacrifices and struggles Frank Lumpkin endured for workers around the world.

Read more about Frank Lumpkin over at People’s World by clicking here.


Lifelong Activist: George Edwards

In November of 2012, we lost a friend, activist, and member by the name of George Edwards.  Not only was Edwards a respected community activist, he was also a union leader and a major figure within the Communist Party.  George Edwards was honored at the United Steelworkers headquarters in Pittsburgh – a memorial that brought coworkers, friends, and family together to celebrate a magnificent life.  Sam Webb, National Chairman of the Communist Party USA, was in attendance and gave a stirring tribute to Edwards.

“‘There is no better place to celebrate George’s life,’ Webb said, thanking Gerard and the union for hosting the memorial. ‘This union meant everything to him,’ he said. ‘Nothing made George happier than to volunteer his labor in this building.'”

Read more about George Edwards in this extensive writeup by Rick Nagin over at People’s World.


A Hero To All: John Gilman

Social activist.  Civil rights supporter.  Writer.  Organizer.  War hero.  John Gilman could be described in a million different ways, but his family remembered him as “proud”.  Gilman, a decorated veteran of World War Two, passed away in April of 2011, but his story is revisited frequently for a multitude of reasons.  Either for his extensive war record, a dedication to the civil rights movement, or his tireless work towards a fairer world for the worker.  He’s truly how People’s World described him: “Milwaukee’s Finest”.

“His tenacious activism for peace, civil rights, democracy and social justice will be missed. He was a well-known organizer for U.S.-Cuba friendship, an end to the embargo, normalized relations and freedom for the Cuban Five. In 2004, Cuba honored Gilman with the Cuban Medal of Friendship.”

To read more about John Gilman’s amazing and inspiring life, please visit the following links:

WWII hero John Gilman took on racism, fought for civil rights (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A Memory For Wisconsin In John Gilman’s Life (Milwaukee Area Labor Council)

Milwaukee’s finest: the amazing story of John Gilman (People’s World)

Purchase John Gilman’s Memoir, Footsoldier for Peace and Justice, at select local retailers or through People’s World (see the end of the article for more information)


Palermo’s “Hard To Swallow”

The struggles at Palermo’s has been going on for over a year now – what’s the latest on this local struggle?  People’s World profiled the workers and their strike last month, offering outsiders a glimpse into how this all began.

“Palermo’s factory workers are often recent immigrants, but despite their vulnerable position they banded together and presented their employer with a petition, signed by 150 workers, stating their intent to unionize so they could effectively discuss issues of safety, health and wages. The company responded, not by pulling up a chair to the negotiating table, but rather by calling for an “immigration audit” that would require workers to produce additional documents to verify their legal status.”

Check out the rest of the article here.


When “America’s Dairyland” Ran Out of Milk

Over at People’s World, there is a fantastic article about a local labor issue at Golden Guernsey Dairy of Waukesha.

“In September 2011 the plant was acquired by a California outfit known as ‘OpenGate Capital.’ This is the sort of Romneyesque outfit that Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry once blasted as engaging in “vulture capitalism”.  It seems the folks at OpenGate have been sharpening their pencils and checking the bottom line ever since the purchase and despite sales increasing by 20 percent they thought the quickest way to a sure profit was to shut it down, and quickly.”

Read the rest of the article here.


Karl Marx on Democracy

“Democracy is the road to socialism.”


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