Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen, "This Land Is Our Land"

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
And I went walking that ribbon of highway
And saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me the golden valley
This land was made for you and me
I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me, a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
This land was made for you and me

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple
By the Relief Office, I’d seen my people
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking that freedom highway
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me
When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

Written by Woody Guthrie. Sung by Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger (age 80).

From the great inauguration of Barack Obama in 2008. I was in a doctor’s office and the news came on that Obama had won. I saw the crowds mobbing the streets, all marching towards the main park of Chicago. The volatile Spike Lee was there. “This changes everything!” He effused. There was a little Black girl sitting next to me, maybe seven years old.

I asked her if she liked Obama. She nodded her head shyly. I had tears in my eyes. How dare these idiots call me racist! What sort of racist cries tears of joy when he hears that America just elected its first Black president?
The three bolded sections above are the “forbidden lyrics.” Although Guthrie included them when he wrote the song in 1940, they are seldom performed in modern versions as they were considered subversive as promoting socialism or Communism. The song is actually a great socialist anthem. Woody Guthrie was definitely a leftwinger.

Given the choice, I would rather have the land owned by me (the state) than owned by some private individual. What’s so great about private ownership of land? What’s better for me, land that I can walk on or land that I can’t walk on? How bout the land that I can walk on?

One of the reasons for China’s great success is that the state owns all the land. Everybody just leases the land where their home or farm is. In The Netherlands also, the state owns all the land. Everybody just leases out whatever land they use. Same thing in Cuba, but in Cuba now, almost everyone owns their own residence. And a great argument for China’s success against India’s failure is that much of the poverty, malnutrition, etc. in India is caused by the private ownership of land, especially in the rural areas. India said they were going to do land reforms and they claimed to do them over and over but the truth is that no real land reform has ever been done in India, and semi-feudal relations still prevail in the countryside. Hence the horrific poverty, starvation, etc.

One of the all-time great folk songs ever written. A purely American song like virtually no other. I believe we should replace that horrible Star Spangled Banner with this much better song. This song also captures the true American spirit. The land does indeed belong to all of us, you and me. All that land the government owns, it doesn’t belong to the government. It belongs to me! It’s my land, dammit! How dare the rich give away my land to malign corporations and the 1%! Forget that. You take my land, and you give it all away to the corporations and the rich to abuse and destroy.

What sort of democracy is that?

Plutocratic rule is never democracy. How can it be? The plutocrats are what? 1% 5%? Where do idiot Americans get it in their heads that rule by the rich or the ruling class is somehow democracy. Aristocratic rule is never democracy at any time or in any place. It can’t be. You either have conservatism, which is rule by the rich or the aristocrats, or you have democracy, which is rule by the people. That’s your only two choices. One or the other? Which one do you want? The rich will never rule in favor of the people. They can’t. They literally cannot. They must rule in their class interests. It’s nearly a law of social science as hard and fast as a hard science rule.

Written by Woody Guthrie! One of the best working class folk singer-songwriters who ever lived. He was also a tough, macho guy, a redneck, a worker, a blue collar roughneck with a cigarette dangling from his mouth James Dean style. This is what the Left used to be before it was taken over by effeminate men, butch women, man-hating feminists, White-hating minorities who idolize common street thugs, anti-nationalists advocating to turn all of America into a teeming Third World Calcutta, all manner of sexual identity and sexual orientation freakazoids with so many weird subgroups that they are almost beyond classification, and in general idiots, fools, deviants and dumbasses.

Woody Guthrie is what the Left used to be. He’s what the Left is supposed to be. He was born too soon. He was Alt Left before there was an Alt Left!

This guitar kills fascists!

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16 thoughts on “Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen, "This Land Is Our Land"”

  1. You might also like the folk musician Ewan MacColl—real name James Miller (if you don’t know of him already).
    His treatments of the traditional North English and South Scottish folk song styles were very good and often beautiful (and very traditional—some helping to give a sense of the old British Anglo-Scotch border style most of the Appalachian ballad tradition came from), and he had a great sensitivity to traditional singing styles and accents and for the folk cultures of Britain (he was from Manchester and his parents were working class migrants from the South Scottish Lowlands).
    He was a left wing activist. Although I might not agree with all of his politics. (like you, I am not a communist, as he was, although I might say I have developed some socialist or quasi-socialist leanings and sympathies), he seems (as far as I can tell) to have come to them mostly from a more or less noble and admirable place.
    His passionate (and, it seems, very admirable and sympathetic) defense of common land use (especially of the wild lands like the mountains around Manchester by the working people of the city) and against the likely excessive monopolization of certain types of land by big land owners, seems perhaps to have been rooted in the old European tradition of common land open to all people (the “folkland” in Anglo-Saxon, like the common tribal land in other cultures, and sometimes—depending on the tribe—distinct from private or family/clan land), and in his own strong—almost spiritual—love of the land and local nature—see his song “Joy of Living” (and perhaps in his own old ancestral roots in the general area).
    A few songs (some by written him, one traditional N. English/S. Scottish ballad sung by him) Also see his “I Loved a Lass”—traditional, on youtube)

    1. Edit: “…not a communist, as he was, although I have developed some socialist and/or quasi-socialist leanings/tendencies and sympathies), he seems (as far as I can tell) to have come to them..”

      1. Edit:
        “…some, like “Lord Randall”—which survived in Appalachia—and “I Loved a Lass” help to give a sense of the old British Anglo-Scotch border style that most of the Appalachian ballad tradition…”

    2. He also sang a lot of other types of English songs, including sea Shanties. I especially like his version of “Row Bullies Row” (which is on youtube)
      Regarding American redneck leftists; I think there may be, or was until recently, a remnant of the so-called “hillbilly socialist” tradition in parts of the north Appalachians and thereabouts. I believe West Virginia for example still tended to vote democratic until 2000 or the early 2000’s (large parts of the state still may).

  2. I would prefer if farm land could be privately owned if I was a farmer. If I lease it, I can be evicted more easily. I like the idea of living on land that I own. There’s more security. How nice it would be to be on your own land, your own little chunk of earth. Its only publicly owned as long as its a democracy anyway, otherwise it is essentially owned by the dictator/king and I’d rather him be limited. Both my instincts and intellect say no to that.
    National parks and forests and stuff can be publicly owned.

    1. I would tend to agree. But limits on the extent of private land ownership in some cases might be appropriate, and perhaps various mixtures of state controlled or (group/cooeratively-owned) along with forms of privately owned enterprises/organizations holding farm and similar land.

    2. I’m still somewhat uncertain/not entirely decided in my beliefs on many issues, but I tend to be very skeptical of of both big business and of the most large scale and centralized government systems, and I tend to see and suspect smaller to medium scale and less centralized approaches generally to be preferable.

  3. To Robert:
    Johnny Cash (who I am a fan for his great poetic songs) was a similar figure. And have you heard of this political movement called the redneck revolt? It seems many ways like a revival of old popular working class southern leftism (and anti-facsism.
    Some interesting excerpts from their website
    “The history of the white working class is one full of resistance, collectively and individually, against the rich elite that hold power over all of our lives. From massive armed uprisings like the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, to the resistance to coal mining in predominately white rural Appalachia today, white working people have been in conflict with those that uphold predatory economic, political, and social systems.”
    “The concept of community is central to our goals and intentions, because it separates us from those who work only in defense of their immediate family, property, and possessions. We find that many movements upholding the concept of liberty do so only in an individualist mindset, which undermines the idea that liberty is something that all people are entitled to.
    We are convinced that the concept of liberty can not truly exist on an individual level alone, and that any class, race, or state construct that enslaves and oppresses anyone among us is a threat to the liberty of all of us. With that in mind, we use the term “community” intentionally to describe those who share the same material conditions with us; our neighbors, our family members, our friends, the people working alongside us.”

    1. Edit:
      “And have you heard of this political movement called the redneck revolt? It seems many ways like a revival of the old popular White working class southern leftism (and anti-facsism).”

    2. And a third excerpt (that I meant to include):
      “The white working class has a rich history of rebellion against tyranny and oppression. The white working class also has a long history of being the foot soldiers of genocide and oppression. In the periods before widespread adoption of white supremacist ideals, the white working class openly rebelled and found common cause alongside slaves, natives, and other people being attacked and exploited.”

  4. The White States of America is a gigantic country with a wholesomely fanatically faddist society.

  5. Another great American songwriter was John Prine. I’ve loved his music since I was a teenager. He was hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms a couple of weeks ago. 1946-2020

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