Monthly Archives: September 2017

Movie Review, “Viceroy’s House,” Directed by Gurinder Chadha, 106 minutes.

Like most useful political movies, “Viceroy’s House” is showing in a very limited run. In Dallas, it’s at the Inwood, but showing only twice each day and sure to disappear on Friday.


Critics compare the movie to “Upstairs Downstairs” or “Downton Abbey,” partly because it stars Hugh Bonneville, who was the Earl for years on “Downton Abbey.” Actually, it compares much more with “Doctor Zhivago” or “The Year of Living Dangerously,” because it’s an epic historical movie with a tangentially related movie-type love story in the foreground, while great events are going on behind.

Lord Mountbatten, a British war hero, arrives to take over as the last viceroy in imperial India. The weakened empire wants to free its millions of subjects and, for most of the movie, the problems seem fairly realistic. The Lord and his very able wife and daughter try to deal with them as well as possible. But there’s dirty business afoot and tens of thousands of Hindus and Muslims will kill each other before the film ends. In Kashmir and other parts of India today, they are still at it.

I don’t want to give away who the real dirty s.o.b. villain is, but his initials are Sir Winston Churchill, about whom I have already delivered some opinions.

As you know, the British didn’t just turn India over to Nehru and his democratic government. Instead, they partitioned it along religious lines as they had earlier with Palestine and Ireland — two other places where a lot of people have died. The entire scheme of partitioning at the end of World War II merits some scrutiny. Why, for example, did we end up with East and West Berlin, North and South Korea, Iraq/Iran/Kurdistan, and one of our old favorites, North and South Indo-China (Vietnam).,

Come to think of it, we might look through a lot of histories and consider what governments really intended when they partitioned geographic areas. I live in Texas, for example, which was partitioned away from Mexico along with California and the entire Southwestern United States.

The movie’s director is no novice She has put together a very satisfying movie with some real political and historical significance. Her own family members were among the victims of the period. The acting is superb at every level, from Lord Mountbatten to his least servants. There are hundreds of extras in wide-lens shots that must have cost a fortune. BTW, Mountbatten’s daughter served as a consultant on the film.

Don’t miss it!

Gene Lantz

Catch me on KNON radio 89.3 FM Saturdays 9-10 AM CST



Most Americans may not use the term “class warfare,” but they know that they are under attack from somebody. As I write this, we’re hoping that 34 million Americans won’t lose their health care this very week!


When we describe these attacks against us, we usually use the metaphors of open battle, but I think we would understand a lot more if we thought of ourselves as under military siege. Wikipedia explains siege, the military tactic, pretty well.

They say, “Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static defensive position.” That one party would be us. From the other side’s offensive point of view, Wikipedia says, “The most common practice of siege warfare was to lay siege and just wait for the surrender of the enemies inside or, quite commonly, to coerce someone inside to betray the fortification.”

I think we could understand a lot about our progressive organizations, including our unions, if we think of ourselves as being under siege by enemy forces. The enemy of working people is, of course, our bosses, so that part is easy to understand. But what is it like to be on our side while we are under siege?

Our Bureaucracy Gets Tough

We  will have to ration everything, and that will require a strong bureaucracy. On our side, within the castle walls, we have to guard against spies, provocateurs, and defectors. We have to watch not only the enemy outside but every one of our friends and allies inside. We may have to deal with some of them, severely!

Our untrusting bureaucracy will grow ever tighter. We will “circle the wagons,” not just against the attackers, but against everyone inside our castle walls who might betray us. The enemy outside the walls, where people are free to come and go, will doubtless criticize us as undemocratic. They will compare our leaders to “union bosses,” or to Stalin, or even to Hitler!

If they are able to make our situation within the walls more and more desperate, we will be less and less a democracy. Eventually, if the enemy can keep the siege going long enough, the people we are trying to protect will be sick of our own leaders and might even assist in an overthrow.

Does this sound like, for example, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Iran, or Venezuela today? Does any of this sound familiar in our own organizations, in our own unions?

What’s the Answer for the Besieged?

Ideally, we should break the siege. That is what the AFL-CIO has been trying to do since 1995. From 1947 (Taft Hartley Law) to 1995, they acted more and more like an isolated and untrusting bureaucracy within walls under siege. Since 1995, the labor federation has been reaching out for allies every where they can find them. The better unions no longer view their own members with suspicion, but look for new channels of communications and internal democracy. I agree with this course, but it isn’t going to be easy. Our enemies are very good at besieging, and we went the wrong way for a considerable length of time.

Not every siege works. The people of Leningrad overcame the German siege of over 900 days, just mostly by enduring. We, too, have to endure.

Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio 89.3 FM from 9 to 10 every Saturday. Call in your opinions!

Book Review: Gaddis, John Lewis, “The Cold War. A New History.” Penguin Press, NY. 2005.


I got the book from the Oak Cliff Dallas library. Gaddis had already written several earlier books on the period, so this one is sort of a compilation, he says.

What I liked about it was that he included some of the significant events of the Cold War period. It’s not chronological. He presents events in the order he wants in order to make the point he wants to make: that the Cold War was not so much a part of the long confrontation between labor and capital, but rather an historically isolated one of democracy versus totalitarianism. From the first, in his detached academic way, he cheers the American side.

Although it’s presented way out of order, he does talk about the 1948 CIA intervention to keep the Italian Communist Party from winning their national elections. He talks, a little bit, about America’s overthrow of the elected government of Chile and the installation of fascist terror. He mentions the CIA overthrows of the elected governments of Guatemala and Iran.

Like a lot of post-Soviet Union books, he gives his explanation for the failure of that government. He seems to think that Premier Gorbachev was confused and easily swayed by that smooth-talking Ronald Reagan. He says that the Soviets erred by trying to live up to their commitment to worldwide revolution by supporting the Cubans, the Angolans, the Vietnamese, and the many other peoples that tried to advance beyond capitalism and called to the Soviets for help. He says the Soviets couldn’t afford them.

But the fundamental problem, he says, was that the Soviets could not provide the standard of living that their people had been promised. When Khruschev said “We will bury you,” no matter how that was interpreted here, he meant that the Soviets had a superior economic system.

Over the years, I’ve heard a number of smart people talking about the mistakes of the Soviet Union. Some of them imply that those mistakes were also made by the worldwide socialist movement and, especially, by CPUSA here. I think this book nudges us toward an idea of what those mistakes might have been:

1) They mistakenly thought they could extend cooperation with the United States and other capitalist nations after Hitler was defeated.

2) They mistakenly thought that capitalist economies would resume their desperate pre-war economic depression after the war

3) They mistakenly thought that no single capitalist nation could unite the others against them

4) They underestimated the post-war prosperity phase.

Having lived through the Cold War, and after visiting the Soviet Union twice and doing some of my own studying, I have to agree with the book’s author on this important main point: I don’t know if the Soviets could have provided a superior standard of living for their citizens, but I am convinced that they didn’t.

Gaddis, the author, says that a market economy is fundamentally superior to a planned economy because it is more flexible. The Chinese economy, he says, succeeds because they embraced capitalism.

Certainly, the Korean War, the Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam war are covered.  But some things were not.

I just glanced at the book’s index to see if he included some of what I considered the most important aspects of the Cold War: The Taft-Hartley law that put America’s unions into a long downward spiral, the trial and execution of the Rosenbergs, Senator Joe McCarthy’s hearings, the McCarran Anti-Subversive Act(s) that sent American activists to prison, and the House Unamerican Activities Committee which destroyed so many lives. None of them are mentioned; none even made the index. If he had mentioned such things, I might have given more credibility to his thesis that the Soviets and Americans were equally to blame for having started and perpetuated the Cold War.

I don’t think that this “equal blame” idea can stand the test of history, because the wealthy capitalist countries opposed the Soviet Union in every possible way from its inception, 100 years ago. World War II provided only a brief interruption in attacks against the Soviets, and they did that only because Hitler had become such a threat to all of them. From 1917 to 1941, and again immediately after the war, the United States and the other imperialist nations did all they could to undermine and overthrow the Soviets.

I think that the Soviet Union fell as the result of an attack. The frontal attacks, although there were plenty of them, could not bring the Soviets down. But the long siege did.

World War II ended with a gigantic Soviet and American victory in 1945. The declaration of Cold War came from Winston Churchill, sharing a podium with President Truman,  in Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946 – less than a year after the hot war ended.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON radio 89.3 FM from 9 to 10 every Saturday. Call in your opinions!