Down with autocracy in Russia
September 1, 2014 6:54 AM   Subscribe

In honour of Labour day, enjoy a documentary on Jewish anarchism at the turn of the 20th century, and the story of The Free Voice of Labour, their Yiddish newspaper that ran from 1890-1977.

The doc showcases a number of traditional Yiddish revolutionary songs:
In Ale Gasn/Daloy Politsey is a melding of songs about workers' exploitation and overthrowing Nicholas II. Lyrics can be found here.
Mayn Rue Platz, a poem written by Morris Rosenfeld, is about the difficult conditions faced by Jewish immigrants. Here's another version.

Both of these songs continue to be sung. For example, a Colombian punk band, Bestiärio, sings Daloy Polizei.
Geoff Berner released a video for his version of Mayn Rue Platz, singing in English and Mandarin. As well, he re-wrote Daloy Polizei to sing about Canadian police killings of prisoners.
posted by Lemurrhea (3 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
This is great - I love how ordinary (I want to say bourgeois) they all are... "I was never a Communist. I was never anything else than an anarchist," she says, sitting with her floral china teacup on a saucer.

There are so many different iterations of seminal Jewish culture in America that are rapidly disappearing and risk being forgotten. I'm glad this was preserved. Happy Labor Day!
posted by Mchelly at 5:05 PM on September 1, 2014

Daloy Politzei is amazingly catchy, considering that Tsar Nikolai II (the Bloody, the Martyr, depending) was killed in 1918. There may still be a few very old ladies who remember seeing him, but that won't be true in a few years.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:56 PM on September 1, 2014

If you like "Daloy Polizei" you may like to hear the original version, "Ekh Lyuli Lyuli" - a song sung in Cossack style by Tzarist era Jewish recruits, performed by Post-modernist Russian Jewish singer Psoy Korolenko working with The Unternationale. For as lot of modern Russian speaking Jews this one song has a lot more resonance than most American style Klezmer. The lyrics to the song in Russian and the translation to the rap/rant are found here.

ekh lyuli lyuli da lyuli – go to synagogue
go to the synagogue, put on your tallis and tephillin
ekh lyuli lyuli da lyuli – put on your tallis and tephillin
put on your tallis and tephillin,
dedicate your soul to the Single and Unknown One
and never close your eyes
stay alert and conscious,
don’t take anything for an ultimate truth,
question everything,
never get into any mental trap
never get into any conceptual conundrum,
this is what Lenin teaches us to do,
this is how old uncle Lacan teaches us to behave,
read Zizek, translate ‘Borderline’,
be rash enough to change what wants to be changed
and to create by yourself what wants to be created
we don’t have to wait for other people to do our job for us
yesterday it was too early, tomorrow it will be too late, do it here and now
think of yourself in terms of class struggle
concrete analyses of concrete circumstances
the feeling of the moment
put aside all sentiments
all those lyuli da lyuli
they are like sweet pills for the ideologically retarded
and we, we look around without any rose-colored glasses,
and without black-tinted decadent glasses either
it is possible to be both a realist and an optimist
it is possible to wait for the future
but not to see dreams, not to tell fortunes
just to create your fortune by yourself
by means of a direct action
which is sometimes unnoticeable
but this is what makes you immortal
our ancestors knew this, and they won
we shall follow them and liberate ourselves,
and songs shall we sing, and vodka shall we drink
ekh lyuli lyuli da lyuli – vodka shall we drink
ekh lyuli lyuli da lyuli – lechaim shall we drink
posted by zaelic at 10:20 PM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

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