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Phil Ochs, Tom Paine and American Redemption

In the 1960s, singer/songwriter/revolutionary Phil Ochs was sometimes described as “Tom Paine with a guitar.” Without regard for political correctness, both Paine and Ochs confronted all illegitimate authorities and hypocrisy. America paid them both back by marginalizing them at the end of their lives and ignoring them for decades following their deaths. With Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune, documentary filmmaker Kenneth Bowser has helped America take a step toward redeeming itself in terms of its treatment of Phil Ochs, hopefully in the same manner that America eventually redeemed itself with respect to its treatment of Tom Paine.

In their respective eras, Paine and Ochs were the guys churning out the sure-fired material that inspired the troops. No publication did more to spark the American Revolution than Paine’s Common Sense, and his American Crisis helped keep George Washington’s troops from quitting on him. During the 1960s, Ochs supplied major energy for the anti-war movement. Ochs’s performance of his “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” during a protest concert outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention inspired hundreds of young men to burn their draft cards.

Bowser’s movie is true to the Phil Ochs whom I remember as a teenager. That Ochs had a special talent for giving truths power. He knew that liars such as Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson required mockery and laughter, and Och’s humor was far more energizing for teenagers such as myself than the tired harangues of his anti-war contemporaries. But Ochs did not stop with easy targets.

Read the full article on Counterpunch.

getupstandup Bruce E. Levine is the author of Get Up, Stand Up, releasing in late March 2011.

Voting: Transcending the Wedge Issue That Divides Democracy Activists

I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? … You voted them in. You caused […] Read More..

New Guide: A Sane Approach to Psychiatric Drugs

Millions of people believe that psychiatric medications have saved their lives, while millions of others report that their psychiatric medications were unhelpful or made things worse. All this can result in mutual disrespect for different choices. I can think of no better antidote for this polarization than the recently revised, second edition Harm Reduction Guide […] Read More..

Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem

Originally published by AlterNet We are increasingly marketing drugs that essentially “cure” anti-authoritarians. In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those […] Read More..

Battle for Brooklyn Makes Oscar Short List, Thanks to Occupy Movement

The 2011 Oscar documentaries short list is in, and the good news is that Battle for Brooklyn — snubbed earlier this year by many major film festivals — is on that list. The Occupy movement has made Battle for Brooklyn impossible to ignore. Battle for Brooklyn asks: Do we really accept that Big Money — […] Read More..

How Can We Rouse Police and Other Protectors of the Corporatocracy — “Guards” of the Status Quo — to Join the OWS Rebellion?

Police, teachers, the corporate press, mental health professionals — the guards of the system — are given small rewards to pacify and control the population. October 20, 2011 | “In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the […] Read More..