“I should have asked to see the gulags…” — Pete Seeger
You won’t find eulogies for many old Reds among these postings; in fact, you won’t find any. Until now. As a theory, Marxism is flawed; as a philosophy, pernicious; as a government, murderous. Its adherents, at least those who remain of good heart, are denigrated by real revolutionaries, as “useful idiots,” fools too idealistic to realize that the hangman’s noose fits many necks.
Pete Seeger was an idiot only in his politics. A card-carrying Stalinist in the ’30s and ’40s, he remained until the end a small “c” communist, a guy whose belief in social justice (a concept rivaled only by belief in Easter bunnies and Bigfeet) led him to embrace the Red Tempter.
Old Pete was an army veteran. When asked what he did in the war, he said, “I strummed my banjo.”
Pete’s banjo. It was of the 5-stringed variety, and he wrote a book about how to play it. The book was a simple tome. The tunes were written in tablature, and finger positions were diagrammed with rough line drawings. I found a copy 40 years ago and learned how to play a few easy tunes in a week. Despite its red cover, it was the best instruction manual I ever read.
So Rest In Peace, Pete. Your politics may have been bad, but your heart was good.