The SFFaudio Podcast #587 – The Dream Of Debs by Jack London; read by KevinS for LibriVox. This is an unabridged reading of the story (47 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Will Emmons
Talked about on today’s show:
The International Socialist Review, January – February 1909, The Strength Of The Strong, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe, Mask vs. Masque, its both, The King In Yellow, jumps in the fireplace, the hunting story, Robert W. Chambers, cars breaking down, punctures, drivers, The Sketch 1910/1911, Lord Dunsany, made of tires, ads for cars, wheels and wings, touring cars, cars as a toy of the rich, what’s missing, why does the story play out the way it does, refrigeration technology, widescale refrigeration, ice deliveries, this particular general strike, not much talk about toilet paper, paper towels, pinecones, store shortages, Manhattan Clam Chowder, canned food, how achievable is a general strike, when Bernie loses the election and our revolution turns into a party, what had to happen for the ILW to accomplish a general strike, the story is silly, IWW, the Knights Of Labor, industrial unionism, a mythological quality for people in the labour movement, the 1880s railway strike, Indiana, they don’t teach this stuff in school, what was uncanny about this story, the majority of working age people had knowledge they were gonna strike, if it was happening today, organizations on Craigslist, there have been revolutions, the Arab Spring, governments are incompetent, our hero gets his information from a particular newspaper, in the offing, Vancouver 1918 general strike, the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike lasted six weeks, anti-conscription, why the fuck was the United States in WWI?, 2nd Lt. Mike Vendetti, the Vietnam War, makes you feel stuff, Jack London supported it, we’re very complex strange creatures, an economic explanation, insuring loans get paid, rationing until the mid-1950s in the UK, the last day of sugar rationing August 1953, what a difference a couple of years makes, our colony in Hawaii, how unrealistic is this story, a week?, if we suddenly had a general strike today, eat those six-months old pickles, dogs and cats, from the POV of a very wealthy man, a feudal lord, that last line, something needs to be done, ridiculously orderly, the army only killed a few people, the telegraph lines, an apocalypse in a comic book, the state is totally unable to respond, if the industrial unions accomplished some of their goals, 1930s strikes, why schools don’t talk about labour history, a functional history showing how thing change, how to change stuff, we cant rely on the newspapers owned by rich people, we have to have our own means of communicating, the people that own everything, how factory jobs became family sustaining jobs, the miners were striking, an actual history of the future, set just a couple of years ahead (at most), utopian writing, aspirational, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, one of the things that socialism is a story about how to make things better, how it could work, emphasizing the lawfulness, doing only a few illegal things, unprecedented!, immoral!, a fair game, he’s a dilettante journalist, he’s a blue check twitter, Anderson Cooper, a Vanderbilt, Journalism school, the billionaires who are his friends and relations, they don’t listen at the club, and that was the end of the general strike, worse than a war, Harrison is still my chauffeur, the tyranny of organized labor, neighbours houses burned to the ground, they haven’t overturned capitalism here, an inversion of another line, something must be done is the starting point, the tyranny of the plutocrats, immigrant labour, imprisonment, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the New Democratic Party, Canada has a different culture than the USA (mostly to do with the relationship to government), Steve Cox hospital bill, Tommy Douglas, Keifer Sutherland, if you want to change to happen, why not any blue will do, eventually the guillotines will come out, a seminal strike 2 years after the Russian Revolution, this deal sucks, how do you scare the shit out of the government, the violence we see, forced to kiss the union jack, 30,000 workers on strike, stop all traffic, why we have that difference, Canada was not born with a different healthcare system, returning soldiers, the idea that soldiers love war, doofus men and boys, wargames, fight the Germans for reasons that did not make any sense, the title of this story, Winnipeg, Eugene V. Debs, Frankenstein’s subtitle, the anti-trust law made unions illegal, they’re using the laws designed to help them against them, that taught Debs a lesson, Victor Berger, I really like reading books so…, Karl Marx, a traveling evangelist for Marxism, evangelical Christianity, socialism, human beings are sacred, everybody has to come together, expropriate the parasites, overthrow the government and replace it with another kind of government, speaking out against WWI, this is all about securing the loans, I belong to the world, it’s disgusting, the Dixie Chicks, they’re heroes, Bill Maher, weird war rah rah madness, a hope for change, TV news clown, people wanted hope and change, they got 6 new wars, more neoliberalism, we know our country isn’t great, you don’t have to be a lunatic to see the appeal, people living under bridges, unless something weird happens with the red death: guaranteed Biden will lose, a return to normalcy is MAGA for white liberals, both are imaginary, Will has questions, the jingoism stuff, Jack London is one of the biggest American writer, the richest writer in the United States, he had the estate he was writing about, not since Mark Twain, this huge figure, a broke labourer, he started as a homeless guy, he was the poorest of the poor, a sincere socialist, a left a center and a right, how lazy the Italians who worked for him are, he had a crazy work ethic, drink you under the table, ride all day, laying bricks, boxing the shit out of people, a proletarian Lord Dunsany, gentleman’s club, what does it mean now?, the audience for this story, playful, The Iron Heel by Jack London, a future history, a very Jack London of Debs, August 2019, News From Nowhere by William Morris, Will Emmons: Boy Genius, a response to Bellamy, everyone lives the lifestyle of an artist, the arts and crafts guy, inspiring those who need inspiration, The Commonweal: The Official Journal Of The Socialist League, you control the means of publication, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the 8 hour day, ratchet down from there, everybody has three jobs now, Paul conveniently flees the country whenever we do a socialist book, the tyranny of human endurance, a 19th century sermon, religious non-conformists, seeing people oppressed for religious beliefs, Prairie Giant, current British Columbia government, the Canadian Labour (UK) party, parties change, the way Cornell West talks and thinks, he saw what Barack Obama did, those snake emojis, they believe she’s a snake (not a lizard person), he was stabbed in the back (in a certain sense), Nancy Pelosi has an endless supply of $600 silk scarves, the AUMF, a plan designed to fail, people can’t judge people, like the butler, Elizabeth Warren is an enemy not an ally, a narrow stratum of petite bourgeoisie, bourgeoisie the capitalist class (the owners of property), small in French, profit margins are lower, the most evil people in the world, squeeze super-exploited people, a position of class, the grocery store and warehouse workers, the proletariat (people who own nothing), debt peonage, the people who are told stay home (but can’t), wage slavery is a beyond the pale as a term, is this really like a choice?, communism, scientific socialism, once a certain number of people it becomes much easier for everyone to stop working, distancing yourself, the way Canada’s fucked up psychology works, until you get better we can’t get better, provinces have more authority than states do, a federal government, provincial responsibilities, equalization payments, provincial change, GST, Value Added Tax, the everyday feel, Social Credit, a Heinlein novel that deals with it, distance Paul, general strikes in antiquity, the secessio plebis, H.G. Wells’ Outline Of History, the plebeians invented strikes, Jesse is very proud of this fact, how the patricians and the plebeians had this relationship, the citizen’s assembly, a mean use, obey the laws you don’t know, 450 B.C., the laws of Rome were written, where that tribune of the plebs came from is because of a general strike, a religious exit from the city, ex-soldiers being treated like nothing, an untouchable representative, whoevers wrote it, when the South lost the war, W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction In America, some great saga, an inciting incident, Lincoln sort of freed the slaves, its not about race, race was a way of dividing people, divide and conquer, indentured servitude vs. slavery, to prevent making common cause, how these changes actually happened was not examined, we saw that it evolved, the teacher didn’t know how these evolutions came, the clarifying questions, slave revolts, patricians are plutocrats, why Julius Caesar was stabbed, I am your advocate, he is betraying his class, all his high school buddies stabbed Julius Caesar, maybe he’s just someone from the upper class, an inflated self-image, private soldiers, Sandline, Blackwater, Erik Prince, Dashiell Hammett, Ludlow, Colorado massacre, become a detective, the phenomenon of these people, gun thugs, a funny piece of history, the Pinkertons, were very concerned about the plebeians, subject to the law, the slum-dwellers, bread lines, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, the outer party, that turn on stage, by not supporting her claim…, he doesn’t say a bad word about anybody, democratic socialists (rose twitter), cross class coalition, people in the streets, Bernie Sanders, Paul is a good person, Paul is in a position of Winston Smith, ready for rebellion, the ultimate betrayal, define betrayal, she didn’t endorse him, she didn’t drop out, you said to me a woman couldn’t be president, a naked political move, the anti-Christ, an aggressive political move, unprincipled, a non-aggression pact with everybody, a revelation of character, Bernie has no killer instinct, everybody is savable, you need to unilaterally disarm, using his personality defect, Joe Biden is responsible, the Iraq War, I wanna prostitute himself, is he gonna kill fewer people, a venal incompetence, a little afield, numbers of wars started, Trump has killed fewer people than Obama, a bad person and immoral, go for funny, Ronald Reagan, a comedy of the worst and last kind, if you looked at her policies, somebody needs to push this party to the left, the bedrock inherent conservationism, how many more homeless people will have to be out on the street?, old folks, crying wolf too much, social dangers, energizing the far right, Hillary Clinton ran to the right of Trump, militia people coming of the woodwork, an uptick in terrorism, the deep state is not gonna do anything about it, functional Nazis in US police department, I will work with anybody to get something done, scientifically that’s not true, guillotine 2020 is my compromise candidate, start with a strong position, the New Deal, the Depression was an existential threat, FDR was not conservatism, who owns the TV stations, who owns the newspapers, back to the slumdwellers, checking all Jesse’s privileged boxes, how science fiction relates to reality, Survivors, The Scarlet Plague, how to survive the plague that is upon us, Carriers (2009), so well organized, non-unionized workers and the unemployed, the lumpen proletariat (the criminal element), the reserve army of labour, structural unemployment, scabs, more oppressed, the first stratum organized, what he needs to win, amazing, the plebeians are aligned with the patricians against the slaves, guaranteed work, the mobility you see for Roman society for slaves vs. American society for slaves, capitalist slavery, a new nationality, the descendants, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Benjamin Disraeli, this story isn’t about race at all, very radical for the time, there’s no gender in this story either, German opposition to WWI, fake scientific notions about the races related to each other, H.P. Lovecraft wasn’t uniquely racist, the multinational character of the US working class, if Will is a child then Jesse and Paul are old men, the 19teens, as learned people, the second Red Scare was very successful, the turn, Uncle Joe Stalin, when you see US and Soviet soldiers embracing, some real united shit, the first Red Scare, massive state repression, vigilante violence, when the socialist disappear off the map, mayor of Burlington, Vermont, the farmer labour movement, the libertarian strain, a constitutionally different personality, going in the religious direction, official racism, genocidal settler nations, getting the slumdwellers in, the Communist Party was huge, organize the homeless, organize the sharecroppers, the geography of the United States, the ability to just move, extra lumpen, and Canada is a safety valve for the United States, poor and terrible, they beat up some rich people, its not discussed, a dream tweet:
Dreamt a lost sequence of 3 novels by Jack London. Each built-up an idea then the wiped the slate clean, the last ending in a scene in which the horrified protagonist–trapped in a maze built of bookshelves fights an infection by ultimately setting the labyrinth & himself alight
whips, there’s a shotgun shell incident, a lot less gun oriented, so crazily armed, a positive dream, you don’t want a massacre, Anderson Cooper reminds them, ways of looking at history, why people like watching hockey, Jesse doesn’t love Canada, a hard to understand phenomenon, every time the Canucks win a hockey tournament, the Stanley Cup riots, mass psychology, a way of understanding psychology enmass, reading the riot act, who is involved in sports riots, regular sports riots, college kids with parents who make more than $100,000 a year.