Note from the Editor

In contrast to the recurring auto-flagellation in the main media (mainly caused by the loss of readers and audience -- read $$) and the irrepressible but undeniable and expected co-optation of the blogosphere by commercial and political interests, we are entering our tenth year of uninterrupted publication committed to journeying along a road less traveled, with a quest for unity based upon respect and acceptation of diversity of political views and autonomy of perspectives among us. Onward to a new Swans year and on to this issue!

The American interstate: Symbol of our freedom to roam the open roads, consume and pollute at will, shop on a whim and devour poison food on the way to the redwoods and through the canyons on a path that links us all, inextricably, to Baghdad's Road of Death. Phil Rockstroh and Angela Tyler-Rockstroh combine the power of their words and images to illustrate this somber corridor of destruction. Amidst the babble about the need for an "energy policy" and "new technology," the most creative proposal is to reduce the speed limit and the toughest question is, "why do we pay so much for a gallon of gas?" Let then Richard Macintosh ask some tough questions on free-market hypocrisy, socialized militarism and profit-based medicine in the Empire's staged reality. Perhaps as more of the Bush administration's unreal realities come to light its effectiveness will be diminished...yet Philip Greenspan fears the tactics to which it may resort to regain power. Its credibility with other countries is further eroded when it admonishes Putin for neither listening to the people nor practicing democracy. The irony is that Bush, in his arrogance, can't even see the irony... Still, Jan Baughman tries to illustrate it for him. The fact remains that the people and polls have little bearing on policy. But if you are Anheuser-Busch, you're in a completely different league. Case in point: the intention of Ventria Bioscience to put human or animal DNA in genetically-engineered rice to produce pharmaceuticals -- in the fields of Missouri, the beer company's headquarters. Read Don Fitz's account of this political fight and the frightening implications of such rice contaminating the food system.

This week marks the anniversary of Marxist revolutionary James Connolly's death. Executed in Dublin by the British after taking up arms in the 1916 Easter Rising to liberate Ireland, Connolly's legacy is remembered by Joe Davison. Upon founding the Irish Socialist Republican Party, Connolly put forth his view that national liberation and socialism were complementary rather than antagonistic, and that " matter what the form of government may be, as long as one class owns as private property the land and the instruments of labor from which mankind derive their substance, that class will always have it in their power to plunder and enslave the remainder of their fellow creatures." With the interests of the working class in mind Julio Huato expands his views on the reasons US Socialists should cooperate strategically with the Democratic Party to advance the workers' movement -- here is a perfect example of the diversity of political views and autonomy of perspectives that we advocate.

From politics to culture and the politics therein, Charles Marowitz describes the inherent conflicts of wearing two hats -- one of theatre critic and one of director; "a fashion statement fraught with danger," as Marowitz relays. Wearing the two hats of populism and nationalism is equally fraught with danger -- see Milo Clark's review of the latest John Lukacs book. In poetry, the plight of a fallen fighter is Gerard Donnelly Smith's subject, and the dangers of depleted uranium, which seem to vary depending on whether it is us or them who are exposed, is one of the many controversial topics that landed on our Editor's desk along with, of course, your letters and John Steppling's review of our last edition.

Last but not least, we are also recognizing the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War by re-running our 25th anniversary retrospective. We continue to hope that, in the words of Carl Sandburg, "Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come."

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


America: Myths and Realities

Phil Rockstroh:  Running On Fumes: A Journey To The End Of Empire
Graphic by Angela Tyler-Rockstroh

Rising gasoline prices terrify Americans because they threaten our sustaining, cultural illusion of our freedom of mobility...a commercial canard that has turned millions into corporate slaves. Our masters have the mobility -- we have a long commute.

How, in any way, shape, or form, are American freeways free?   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Richard Macintosh:   "Un-American" Questions

An acquaintance of mine, Republican to the core, recently took offense at my purchase of prescription drugs in Canada. "You're undermining the system," he said.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  Will The Withering Shrub Recover?

In the winter of 2004, a top advisor to George Bush warned the journalist and author Ron Suskind that the administration's custom-made illusory world would override the real world.   More...


Jan Baughman:  American Diktat, Russian Polls: The Presidential Press Conference

Well, no -- you're wrong. We do want a president that listens to polls; one who conducts real focus groups, not staged events to which dissenters need not apply. We want a president who makes good, sound decisions. Period.   More...


Don Fitz:  Mommy, Is Aunt Sally In The Rice Puffs?

Would it be worse to find a finger in your chili or guzzle human DNA when you down a beer? In the recent furor over the potential for "pharmed" rice to destroy Missouri's rice growing industry, something is being downplayed: corporations are proposing to put human DNA into plants whose neighboring cousins could end up being eaten (or drunk) by people.   More...


Activism under the Radar Screen

Joe Davison:  Remembering James Connolly

May the 12th each year marks the anniversary of the death of one of history's finest Marxist revolutionaries, James Connolly. Executed in Dublin by the British, after taking up arms in the 1916 Easter Rising to liberate Ireland and end 800 years of uninterrupted occupation, he died a martyr in the cause of self determination and social and economic justice.   More...


Julio Huato:  Workers, Socialists, And Democrats: Reflections On Strategy

Over the last couple of years, prompted by the last presidential election, I engaged in several debates on an Internet list of Marxists. A recurrent topic was the attitude of US socialists towards the Democratic Party. I rejected the view -- pervasive among some radicals -- that political cooperation with the Democrats, in elections or other struggles, was ill advised.   More...


Arts & Culture

Charles Marowitz:  Wearing Two Hats: The Director Takes On The Critic

The only thing worse than being a drama critic is being a theatre practitioner as well. The ire that this induces in the profession is sometimes volcanic and even when the lava doesn't flow openly, it gurgles and smolders beneath the surface. The spectacle of one person performing two acts, which in most people's minds are antithetical, remains one of the more harrowing experiences that art affords.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Milo Clark:  John Lukacs's Democracy and Populism, Fear and Hatred

In his latest book, Democracy and Populism, Fear and Hatred, historian John Lukacs holds that democracy is degenerating or has degenerated into populism conjoining with nationalism.   More...



Gerard Donnelly Smith:  La Muerte de Nadie

Nadie spits blood,
a pastoral mosaic in sand,
with patriot's blood.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #18

"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: from a US Army Captain on the 'safety' of depleted uranium; to the Virgin Mary's Chicago eviction and the auction of Benedict's used car; to Swans activists and the Almighty's trade-offs; a boycott of two Israeli universities and a few observations from Boonville in between.   More...


Vietnam, A Retrospective

Gilles d'Aymery:  Introduction (May 2000)

[ed. With the recent 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, we are reposting the retrospective that we published five years ago on the occasion of the 25th anniversary. The thoughts and emotions expressed then remain as valid and powerful today.]   More...


Letters to the Editor


John Steppling on everything from Howard Dean, facism, and the wasteland of L.A.; [sic]-filled attacks on Swans' editorial line; and more on anti-Semitism and consociational patriotism.   More...



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Created: May 10, 2005