Good Morning Revolution – Langston Hughes (1932)

Good morning Revolution:
You are the best friend
I ever had.
We gonna pal around together from now on.
Say, listen, Revolution:
You know the boss where I used to work,
The guy that gimme the air to cut expenses,
He wrote a long letter to the papers about you:
Said you was a trouble maker, a alien-enemy,
In other words a son-of-a-bitch.
He called up the police
And told’em to watch out for a guy
Named Revolution

You see,
The boss knows you are my friend.
He sees us hanging out together
He knows we’re hungry and ragged,
And ain’t got a damn thing in this world –
And are gonna to do something about it.

The boss got all his needs, certainly,
Eats swell,
Owns a lotta houses,
Goes vacationin’,
Breaks strikes,
Runs politics, bribes police
Pays off congress
And struts all over earth –

But me, I ain’t never had enough to eat.
Me, I ain’t never been warm in winter.
Me, I ain’t never known security –
All my life, been livin’ hand to mouth
Hand to mouth.

Listen, Revolution,
We’re buddies, see –
We can take everything:
Factories, arsenals, houses, ships,
Railroads, forests, fields, orchards,
Bus lines, telegraphs, radios,
(Jesus! Raise hell with radios!)
Steel mills, coal mines, oil wells, gas,
All the tools of production.
(Great day in the morning!)
Everything –
And turn’em over to the people who work.
Rule and run’em for us people who work.

Boy! Them radios!
Broadcasting that very first morning to USSR:
Another member of the International Soviet’s done come
Greetings to the Socialist Soviet Republics
Hey you  rising workers everywhere greetings –
And we’ll sign it: Germany
Sign it: China
Sign it: Africa
Sign it: Italy
Sign it: America
Sign it with my one name: Worker
On that day when no one will be hungry, cold oppressed,
Anywhere in the world again.

That’s our job!

I been starvin’ too long
Ain’t you?

Let’s go, Revolution!

The question that is necessarily posed in the context of a strike is that it is clear that our demands, as reasonable as they are, cannot be simply achieved in the course of the bargaining and strike structures that have been established within our society, thus how can we make the gains that we need? Hughes correctly answers this question: Revolution. Indeed, those that have articulated new strategies have only been successful in getting better contracts that could have been achieved otherwise, however, even then the victories pale in comparison to our original reasonable demands. I believe that the gains that many of us would prefer to make, can only be made in the course of revolutionary struggle and the capture of the state. This does not mean however, that the strike is an useless tool in the fight that we must wage. Rather, the strike potentially becomes a moment in which the working class can actually re-envision a new set of possibilities because the strike is a moment in which our “normal” economic and social relations become temporarily unhinged. However, capitalists and their effective counterparts, labor bureaucracies, recognize the potentiality of this unhinging and seek to regulate those on strike to ensure that such articulations of disalienation become difficult, if not impossible, such that the “collective agreement” becomes an “agreement” between the working class and the bourgeoisie to ensure class peace. But this does not mean that we should dismiss Unions out of hand, rather, we must struggle within the Unions against the labor bureaucracy through the course of labor struggles, and through small victories, demonstrate to the working class that another form of Unionism is possible. Furthermore, this demonstration of another Unionism’s possibility should not be done as a presentation of other models, but through the active engagement of workers in this new model. However, the demonstration of this other form of labor unionism is in itself not enough to make the victories that we need, rather, this other form of labor unionism necessarily has a limit endemic to Unionism and the reformism that is necessarily entailed. Thus, when class contradictions are sharpened because of successive labor struggles and through worker self-empowerment through the defeat of the labor bureaucracy, the working class will necessarily need new forms of organization that can appropriately deal with the contradictions that we experience.


3 thoughts on “Good Morning Revolution – Langston Hughes (1932)

  1. I am Egyptian, and now after the Egyptian revolution I can feel this poem and understand every line. I think it is a beautiful peace of revlutionary literature. But can any one help me understand the historical stanza which begins with “Boy!Radios” especially the part on the Soviet republics. I would be grateful.

    1. “Broadcasting that very first morning to USSR:
      Another member of the International Soviet’s done come”

      I think this may refer to a future hope of more countries (as outlined by China, Africa, etc.) joining Comintern, which might be what he means by International Soviet. Comintern was the worldwide organisation that worked to help flowering Communist or pro-Communist type movements.

      “Greetings to the Socialist Soviet Republics
      Hey you rising workers everywhere greetings –”

      And this would mean the radio addressing all of the new nations united under that Communism, the radio representing the organisation of the masses, the information reaching all of the workers (knowledge is power), and the propaganda whose positivity – you could say – sought to imbue people with the sense of the new age, hope, prosperity, etc., which Hughes also tries to convey in this poem.

      I hope that I’ve helped.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s