Concerning Roy Beat’s letter (June Socialist Standard), I (mis)spent the 1960s immersed in the Folk Movement and recall nothing positive vis-à-vis the dissemination of Socialist knowledge. Politically the scene was one Leftist/Nationalist mess. Significantly Roy Beat fails to produce any contrary evidence.
The banjo’s early multi-racial history is common knowledge. However in the wake of the Minstrel Shows its image to many Negroes was tarnished and seeing one in the hands of yet another “condescending white, liberal Yankee” arriving to “emancipate” them was further aggravation.
The significance of the inverted commas around “good causes” appears to have evaded him. Socialists recognise the serious limitations of the Civil (and Woman’s, Gay etc) Rights Movements and how at best they can only aspire to parity with their white, male, heterosexual Working Class counterparts within Capitalism. The solution, of course, is Socialism. Who would need “rights” where common ownership and free access prevailed? Likewise, the anti-Vietnam War Movement dealt only with the specifics of that event; not the underlying causes of war at large. On what possible basis therefore could criticising all of this be deemed “sectarian”?
I have much time for Pete Seeger both personally and musically: politically, I have little.