About Bubba Muntzer


Thomas Muntzer was a renegade Catholic priest and a leader of a peasant revolt known as The German Peasant War of 1524-25, about which Karl Marx's partner, Frederick Engels, wrote a history. That history, and the fact that Engels suggests that the origins of modern Socialism can be traced back to the peasants' struggle, has resulted in Muntzer becoming an important symbolic figure to many Socialists. In Socialist East Germany, for example, in which Muntzer's birthplace was located, he was on a bank note, and a city, a university, and other things were named after him.


Muntzer was a contemporary of Martin Luther, also a Catholic priest and the founder of Protestantism. During the Peasant War, Luther wrote a polemic recommending that the peasants be slaughtered. Luther, who had been kicked out of the Catholic Church, had allied himself with the German nobility, who wanted the vast landholdings of the church and a way to heaven without having to go through the pope or follow any rules of right and wrong, which the pope had been excommunicating them for, and Luther said, on all accounts, I'm your man. You can do as you please and I can still get you into heaven. Thus was born the Protestant doctrine of substantiation, or justification by faith alone, and not by works, i.e. getting into heaven has nothing to  do with your behavior. Thus Protestantism was born, and at the same time, Capitalism.

Engel's book,  The German Peasant War, or Das Bauernkrieg, which goes into all this, is a Marxist analysis of the situation in Germany at the time, when the foundations of Socialism were being laid and when Capitalism was assuming its modern form and when the mutually beneficial relations between Protestantism and Capitalism were being formed.


I once worked for several years on a novel, never finished, never published, which was to be titled Bubba Muntzer, in which I tried to bring these threads forward in time to the US South, where I was living at the time, and where the word "bubba" is used to denote a good natured kind of country person or a "good old boy." I was trying to isolate what in human nature makes us revolt and what makes us submit, as those things play out in ordinary people, "the masses" that must be be brought along, be brought around, and be behind any movement that expects success, or any government that wants to retain power and legitimacy. I thought that the Southern US working class, for various reasons, such as their numbers, but also because of the role the South plays in the US, politically and culturally, and in its mythology, must be brought along too. (Some of them think so, too.)


Germany has produced people like Marx and Engels, but also Hitler, whose politics were closer to the dominant politics in South Carolina, where I was living at the time. South Carolina, where the Confederacy has its ideological roots and where the Civil War began with an attack on the US government's Fort Sumpter, has a history of massive German immigration that is ignored, subsumed under a more fashionable English and French Huguenot history. Many once German place names have been changed, but you can still look at map of the state and see a swath of German place names across the state ending in the northwest corner at town called Wallhalla, which in germanic mythology is the home of the gods, heaven.

To the editors of Charleston's newspaper, and to people like state senator Glenn McConnel, now the state senate majority leader, who has fought long and hard to keep the confederate battle flag flying on top of the state capital, the Civil War is still being fought. When I was in South Carolina, the Charleston paper once editorialized that maybe if we got rid of "symbols of division" like Martin Luther King, we might be able to take down the confederate flag.


If you try to research the origins of the term "bubba" you get some speculation but no hard answers. A friend of mine, Lewis Clark, an old farmer in Cross, South Carolina, was telling me about the German prisoners of war during World War II who were kept at a camp in Cross and who would be brought out to work in the woods felling timber. He said that as a boy he would bring them things to eat, and that they called him bubeh, which is German for boy.


I always liked the sound of the name Bubba Muntzer, and how, to me anyway, it brings together several things. I used the name when I started this web log because I wanted to publish it anonymously

I have since put my name on the blog, but the title Bubba Muntzer is embedded in the Google system and is what comes up in links and so forth. 

But that is the origin of the name Bubba Muntzer. It would do me good to change everything to my actual name, but from my current perspective is seems more trouble than it's worth. Not very many people know this web logs exists.


Frank Conway
Albuquerque, NM