Dirty Old Town


by Not Sure

16 July 2023


            Between 1952 and 1954, the U.S. Congress held the Select Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations, which was first known as the “Cox Committee” and later as the “Reece Committee,” named for the two chairmen who oversaw the work during two separate sittings of Congress.  The Reece Committee had “the almost impossible task” of telling the taxpayers “The almost incredible fact that the huge fortunes piled up by such industrial giants as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford were being used to destroy or discredit the free-enterprise system which gave them birth.”

            In the preface to Rene A. Wormser’s book, Foundations: Their Power and Influence, written about Wormser’s work on the Reece Committee and his subsequent investigations, Senator B. Carroll Reece wrote that “the work of the Cox Committee had left several important unanswered questions, the gravest of which was: to what extent, if any, are the funds of the large foundations aiding and abetting Marxist tendencies in the United States and weakening the love which every American should have for his way of life?


            The word politics comes from the Greek “affairs of the city.”  Politics is how nations, regions and organizations are governed and can also describe the relationship among individuals who want to attain and retain power.

            Much of what we call politics is theatre for the public, as the attainment and retention of power is usually accomplished in back rooms, on golf courses, over drinks at gatherings far from the madding crowd.  The public must have Senators to love, Ministers to hate, legislation to support, and scandals to chatter about.  People with real power wouldn’t have it any other way.  They need calm seas and a wide berth for the HMS Change.

            When corruption is noticed by the public, we’re given committees to investigate it.  Often these are televised or heavily reported on.  Sometimes outside “expertise” must be sought, and we’re given commissions, with “independent” consultants and auditors to get to the bottom of the stinking barrel of fish.  Commissions can last years, their work is seldom conducted in public view.

            Most political commentary and reporting have little to offer.  You knew the play would be terrible, so you didn’t bother to go to the theatre.  Why read the review?  But I am interested to read Wormser’s book, because this is a rare glimpse at the supra-government, the unelected philanthropists who have been shaping policy and guiding the “affairs of state” for a long time now.

            Sadly, had Wormser’s book had the desired effect on the American taxpayer, we would not be governed today by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Rockefeller Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Open Societies Foundation, to name but a few of the “thousand points of light.”


            Wormser wrote that by using these “ingenious legal creatures,” a type of socialism could be reached, even if that was an unintended result.  A nod is given to the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations for their work in the fields of medicine, public health, and science.  He wrote, “It is in the fields of education, international affairs and what are called the “social sciences” that the greatest damage can be done to our society.  For this reason the Reece Commission confined its inquiry almost entirely to these areas.”

            This commission was formed seventy years ago, the book written sixty-five years ago.  If a diligent and honest commission was formed today, its members would certainly observe that a terrifying amount of damage can be done when foundations direct the fields of medicine, public health, and science.

            The concepts and dangers being addressed a lifetime ago are eye opening.  The “social engineering” with a left-leaning bent was obvious to the commission.  These weren’t McCarthy-style witch hunters, though the press characterized them in that way.  The Rockefeller foundation received their criticism for the funding of Alfred Kinsey’s “scientism.” We learn that at the time of Kinsey’s “research,” it was widely considered “pseudoscientific.”  People were disgusted by Kinsey’s attempts to normalize child molesters, aided by the Rockefeller Foundation’s funding of “bestsellers” to promote Kinsey’s “scientism.”



            In this Redux 118 from May 10, 2007, entitled “Don’t Drive – Behave – Beehive (or) Hitchhiker’s Guide to Behaviour Modification,” Alan Watt talked about how the “science” on global warming as complete.  This is how it’s put across to the public:  The debate on global warming is over.  The facts are real.  The only question remaining is how to remedy it.

            He read an article entitled “The Climate Engineers” by James R. Fleming, writing for The Wilson Quarterly, a publication of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.  Alan said, “…it also mentions in here of his different affiliations. Those are interesting to look up, always. The affiliations tell you an awful lot about who's who and who's writing what.  He's a “public policy scholar,” interesting, at the Wilson Center and holder of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Roger Revelle Fellowship in Global Environmental Stewardship.  It's written by one of THEM, you know, “those guys”—those guys "in the know" on the big CON that's going on, and so they can't give obviously anything near a fair description.” 

            I looked up those affiliations.  The Wilson Center is a public-private partnership and receives one third of its annual funds from the U.S. government.  According to Wikipedia, “The remainder of the center's funding comes from foundations, grants and contracts, corporations, individuals, endowment income, and subscriptions.”  The Center was established within the Smithsonian Institution but has its own board of trustees.  The current board chairman is Bill Haslam, a billionaire who has a background in Tennessee politics, including serving as the state’s governor for two four-year terms.

            The Wilson Center is a Governmental Organization think-tank, instrumental in shaping policy, but the bulk of its money is from private sources or foundations which often have the label “public.”  They are anything but public.

            The simplest way to characterize the American Association for the Advancement of Science is to liken it to the U.K.’s Royal Society.  It’s old and august.

            Roger Revelle of the Roger Revelle Fellowship in Global Environmental Stewardship (of which James R. Fleming was a holder) was among the early scientists to study anthropogenic global warming.  Revelle was born in 1909 and died in 1991.  Revelle’s 1957 paper, co-written with Hans Suess, was the first paper on the “greenhouse effect.”  In that paper, the term “global warming” appeared for the first time.



            Alan ended this talk with the song “Dirty Old Town” performed by The Dubliners, an Irish folk band formed in 1962.  Alan liked The Dubliners, particularly the early recordings when the lineup featured Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew.  “Dirty Old Town” was popularized by The Dubliners and later The Pogues, but it was written in 1949 by James Henry Miller, better known by his stage name, Ewan MacColl.  MacColl was a folk singer-songwriter, labour activist and actor, born in England to Scottish parents. 

            “Dirty Old Town” has been described as a love song written for the town where MacColl was born, Salford, Lancashire.  MacColl wrote the song to cover an awkward scene change in a play he wrote entitled “Landscape with Chimneys.”

            The first verse refers to the gasworks “croft,” a piece of open land adjacent to the gasworks, and then the old canal, which was the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal.  The original line in the song about “the Salford wind” is most often sung as “the sulphured wind”.

            MacColl’s parents were socialists, and he joined the Young Communist League and was a member of a socialist acting troupe.  MI5 opened a file on him in 1932.  MacColl met actress Joan Littlewood in 1934 when she joined his acting company, Theatre of Action, and married her shortly after.  In 1941, Littlewood was banned from broadcasting on the BBC, and MI5 opened a file on her as a security risk.  She and MacColl divorced in 1949, and some years later she began a long relationship with Philippe de Rothschild.  Rothschild was a member of the banking dynasty, a race car driver, poet, playwright, and vintner, but evidently not a security risk.

            Luke Kelly has sometimes been called Ireland’s red troubadour.  Born to a poor family, he was raised in a building with a communal toilet and tap shared by eight families.  In his youth, he left Ireland and became an itinerate worker in England.  He cleaned windows and worked on the rails.  He described himself as a beatnik.  It was during those years in England that he met Sean and Mollie Mulready, Communists who had left Ireland because of what they described as persecution from the church and state.  The Mulreadys introduced Kelly to Marxism.  He joined the Young Communists League and the Connolly Association, an Irish emigrant group linked to the Communist Party in Britain.  The Mulreadys and Marxist “classicist” George Thompson oversaw his studies in literature and left-wing politics.  One article I read described his decision to move away from politics and focus on folk music, but it is more accurate to consider this as an extension of his politics, especially since he was musically mentored by Ewan MacColl and his new wife Peggy Seeger.

            Peggy Seeger was the daughter of Charles Seeger, a musicologist, ethnomusicologist, and folklorist.  Charles Seeger attended New York City’s The New School for Social Research, founded in 1919 by a group of men including John Dewey.  Amongst scholars associated with The New School for Social Research (NSSR) were Erich Fromm and Max Wortheimer and others from the Frankfurt School.  Charles Seeger would later teach at the NSSR.

            One of Charles Seeger’s more interesting jobs was his 1936 appointment to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Resettlement Administration, formed in 1935.  It relocated struggling urban and rural families to communities planned by the federal government.  This was succeeded by the Farm Security Administration in 1937.  Seeger was technical advisor to the Music Unit of the Special Skills Division of the Resettlement Administration.  The agency that “relocated” struggling families to communities planned by the federal government had a music department.

            Peggy Seeger’s brother was folk musician and folklorist Mike Seeger, and her half-brother was folk singer and activist Pete Seeger.  Pete Seeger joined the Young Communist League in 1936 and in 1942 became a member of Communist Party USA, leaving that organization in 1949, but maintaining left-leaning social activism throughout his long life. 

            In Pete Seeger’s career, it is an early job with his father’s friend and colleague Alan Lomax, that is worth pondering.  In 1938, Seeger took a position from Lomax who was working at the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.  They sifted through all the commercial “race” and “hillbilly” recordings to find music that best represented American folk music.  This sifting of recordings was funded by the music division of the Pan American Union (later the Organization of American States.)  The Pan American Union was conceived by Franklin D. Roosevelt as a League of Nations of the Americas.  The music division of the Pan American Union was headed by Pete Seeger’s father, Charles, from 1938 through 1953.


            Before the revolution was televised, it was set to music.


            Peter Doherty is an English musician, songwriter, actor, poet, writer, and artist.  His music has been described as indie-rock, post-punk, and eclectic.  Doherty was raised in a military family.  His father was a major in the Royal Signals.  His mother was a lance-corporal in Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.  Doherty has battled drug addiction and said, “I nearly lost my feet from injecting.”

            Doherty is the latest in a long line of performers who’ve sung “Dirty Old Town.”  In February of this year, on England’s Channel 4, he sang MacColl’s song in Ukrainian.  At the end of the song, he shouted “slava Ukraini!”, meaning “glory to Ukraine”.


© Not Sure


Additional reading:


Ewan MacColl: the godfather of folk who was adored – and feared



Ireland’s Red Troubadour



Pete Doherty sings ‘Dirty Old Town’ in Ukrainian in rare TV appearance