First Published: People’s Canada Daily News Release, December 10, 1971
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Toronto (PCDN) December 9 – The latest issue of TORONTO STUDENT, Vol.3, No. 8 published on December 6th has an article entitled “Dylan is dead, while George Jackson lives!” The full article follows:
In order to maintain their control over the people the reactionaries of all countries have used the medium of culture. Comrade Mao Tsetung has pointed out: “In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art’s sake, art that stands above classes or art that is detached from or independent of politics.” This statement can be verified in our contemporary culture. Pornography, obscurantism, mysticism, self-indulgence are some of the methods used by the exploiting classes to mislead the people and to prevent them from solving the real problems facing them. These efforts are a sign of decline and imperialist culture will definitely be smashed.
Lenin pointed out that while great revolutionaries are alive they are slandered and defamed. When they are dead an attempt is made by the reactionaries to convert them into ’saints’ who had something to say after all. This device is used to empty these great men of their revolutionary spirit and turn them into innocuous conversation pieces. This tactic is now being used by the U.S. imperialists against the black revolutionary martyr George Jackson. As is well known to all, George Jackson was a great revolutionary and a shining example to his people and to all those who oppose fascism, racism and imperialism. No petty bourgeois distortion of him can alter this fact.
The popular American singer Bob Dylan, at the behest of his masters, has recently released a recording entitled “George Jackson”. This ’new’ task of Dylan’s, to canonize George Jackson, is not really such a ’new’ task. When one recalls his earlier recordings and social practice one can see at a glance whom Dylan serves.Comrade Mao Tsetung has pointed out: “This question of ’for whom’ is fundamental; it is a question of principle.” Dylan’s past and present records have earned him an infamous place in history. What exactly is the reactionary nature of Dylan’s recording “George Jackson”?
A constant theme of the record is that of ’love’. Dylan first states that he is bereaved at the loss of “a man I really loved”. Later he concocts the idea that the fascist prison guards were afraid of Jackson’s ’love’. This is a complete distortion of the revolutionary Jackson and reflects Dylan’s complete loss of contact with reality. This is what Jackson says about love: “Perfect love, perfect hate, that’s the insides of me. I recognize two distinct types only, the innocent, the guilty. The innocents even the ones that I’ll meet tomorrow, I love them all equally. The guilty I will give the folding crane’s wing snap to the temple. Simple.” And of hatred he says: “I can never delude myself into thinking that I love my enemies.” “You simply can’t reason with people like them (Nixon and Co.), they have too much to lose by being reasonable.” Jackson clearly saw the relation of the guards to the entire fascist state in America. The guards are sterile robots who he knows are but symptoms of the system. Jackson states: ”Slaying the shitty pig will have absolutely no healing effect at all if we leave this vulture (corporate capitalism) to touch someone else.” Hence the notion that the guards killed Jackson because they were afraid of his ’love’ is preposterous. Corporate capitalism, i.e. fascism, killed George Jackson. Comrade Mao Tsetung summed up the concept of love: ”Now as for love, in a class society there can be only class love; but these comrades are seeking love transcending classes, love in the abstract... ” Hence fascists love fascists and revolutionaries love revolutionaries.
Dylan tries to obscure the real enemy and confuse his listeners by resorting to obscurantist language. Even the most shallow reading of Jackson’s book exposes the enemy, corporate capitalism in America. What does Dylan do? He uses the word ”They” before each verse. Now just who are “They”? It is quite clear that Dylan knows who “They” are. HE WORKS FOR THEM! Dylan is a flunkey of Columbia Records Inc., a subsidiary of Columbia Broadcasting System Inc., the leading mouthpiece of monopoly capitalism in the U.S. It is small wonder that Dylan is busy spreading such poisonous weeds.
The legacy of George Jackson is a proud one written with his blood. His tit-for-tat struggle against fascism is a bright red star leading the way for revolutionary Americans to follow. To further distort this legacy Dylan dresses up his lyrics with a death dirge (sad harmonica, wailing female voices). Thus he promotes the idea of self-preservation above all. What insidious treachery!! What message does Dylan leave us with? The last verse is very explicit: ”Sometimes I think this whole world is one big prison yard,/Some of us are prisoners, some of us are guards.” It is quite clear that Dylan sees through the eyes of the fascists and imperialists. He bemoans the state of the world (read: his world) and tries to deny the heroic struggle of the Chinese, Vietnamese and other progressive anti-imperialist people’s movements. Mankind is on the march and Dylan wails. That is disgusting!
Dylan’s ’relevant’ music is simply a clear example of decadent imperialist culture. Is Dylan an accident? We think not. The service he performs for his master is rewarded with ”thousands of Judas’s kisses” and millions of dollars. But Dylan and his imperialist masters are living in a daydream. This is not the 1960’s when counter-(revolutionary) culture could be promoted with little opposition. This is the 1970’s, the era of world-wide anti-imperialist revolution. Dylan and his ilk will be relegated to the garbage heap of history.
Jackson wrote: ”The cultural links to the established society have been a lot closer than we like to admit. In the area of culture... we are bonded to the fascist society by chains that have strangled our intellect, scrambled our wits and sent us stumbling backwards into a wild disorganized retreat from reality. We dont want their culture. We don’t want a piece of that pie. It’s rotten, putrid, repulsive to all the senses.”
Dylan is dead! George Jackson is living! What was Jackson’s path and what was his counsel to others? “Then equip yourself with the Little Red Book. There is no other way to regain our senses.”
Down with imperialist culture!
Wage war of annihilation on the cultural front!
Long live the heroic fighting spirit of George Jackson!