Saturday, 6 March 2010

From the Weather Underground Organization: MARCH 6 1970-2010

We've just received this communication from our friends and comrades Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn of the Weather Underground Organization.

Every day is a day to honour the dead and fight for the living - but today is a special one.

Cyprus IndyMedia Collective

* * *



MARCH 6 1970-2010

A front page headline in the New York Times on March 7, 1970 announced: “Townhouse Razed by Blast and Fire; Man’s Body Found.” The story described an elegant four-story brick building in Greenwich Village destroyed by three large explosions and a raging fire “probably caused by leaking gas” at about noon on Friday, March 6.

The body was later identified as belonging to 23-year old Ted Gold, a leader of the 1968 student strike at Columbia University, a teacher, and a member of a “militant faction of Students for a Democratic Society.” Over the next several days two more bodies were discovered—Diana Oughton and Terry Robbins had both been student leaders, civil rights and anti-war activists—and by March 15 the Times reported that police had found “57 sticks of dynamite, four homemade pipe bombs and about thirty blasting caps in the rubble,” and referred to the townhouse for the first time as a “bomb factory.” That awful event announced widely the existence of the Weather Underground, in some ways the most notorious, but far from the only group of Americans to take up armed struggle as a protest tool at that moment—the story took off from there, growing, changing, and accelerating every day

A few days after the Townhouse explosion Ralph Featherstone and William “Che” Payne, two “black militants," associated with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, according to Time magazine, “were killed when their car was blasted to bits” by a bomb police said was being transported to Washington D.C. to protest the prosecution of SNCC leader H. Rap Brown. The Black Liberation Army leapt onto the national scene, and other organized groups—Puerto Rican independistas, Native American first nation militants, and Chicano separatists— emerged demanding self-determination and justice.

Violent resistance to violence was far from an isolated phenomenon: Time noted that in 1969 there had been 61 bombings on college campuses, most targeting ROTC and other war-related targets, and 93 bomb explosions in New York, half of them classified as political,” a category that was “virtually non-existent ten years ago.” According to the FBI, from the start of 1969 to mid-April 1970, there were 40,934 bombings, attempted bombings, and bomb threats. Out of this total, 975 had been explosive, as opposed to incendiary, attacks, meaning that on average, two bombs planned, constructed, and placed, detonated every day for more than a year. Our national history includes times of anarchist resistance, labor militancy, massive unreported (and still largely unacknowledged) slave rebellions, and the armed abolitionism of John Brown; the late 1960’s and 1970’s was becoming one of those times.

How had it come to this?

Empire, invasion, and occupation always earn blow-back. In 1965 most Americans supported the war, but by 1968 people had turned massively against it—the result of protest and organizing and a burgeoning peace movement, and of civil rights leaders like the militants from SNCC, Muhammad Ali, and Martin Luther King, Jr. denouncing the war as illegal and immoral. Even more important, veterans came home and told the truth about the reality of aggression and occupation and war crimes. The US government found itself isolated around the world and in profound and growing conflict with its own people inside its own borders. The Vietnamese themselves were decisive: they refused to be defeated. The Tet Offensive in 1968 destroyed any fantasy of an American victory, and when President Lyndon Johnson announced at the end of March, 1968 that he would not run for re-election, it seemed to us we had won a victory.

But peace proved to be a dream deferred, for the war did not end—it escalated into an air and sea war, expanded into all of Cambodia and Laos, and every week the war dragged on another six thousand people were murdered in Southeast Asia. Six thousand human beings—massive, unthinkable numbers—were thrown into the furnaces of war and death that had been constructed by our own government. The war was lost, but the terror continued. All Vietnamese territories outside US control were declared “free-fire zones” and airplanes rained bombs and napalm on anything that moved, destroying crops and live-stock and entire villages. John McCain, an unremorseful war criminal, flew some of those missions. As a young lieutenant, John Kerry testified in Senate hearings at the time that US troops committed war crimes every day as a matter of policy, not choice.

No one knew precisely how to proceed, for the anti-war movement had done what it had set out to do—we’d persuaded the American people to oppose the war, built a massive movement and a majority peace sentiment—and still we couldn’t find any sure-fire way to stop the killing; millions of people mobilized for peace, and our project, our task and our obsession, was so simple to state, so excruciatingly difficult to achieve: peace now. The war slogged on into a murky and unacceptable future, and the anti-war forces splintered then—some of us tried to organize a peace wing within the Democratic Party, others organized in factories and work-places, some fled to Europe or Africa or Canada, others to communes, the land, and hopeful but small organizing projects. Some began to build a vehicle to fight the war-makers by other means, a clandestine force that would, we hoped, survive what we thought of as an impending American totalitarianism. Every choice was contemplated, each seemed a possibility then—and we had friends and family in every camp—and no choice seemed utterly beyond the pale.

The Weather Underground carried out a series of illegal and symbolic attacks on property then, some 20 acts over its entire existence, and no one was killed or harmed; the goal was not to terrorize people, but to scream out the message that the US government and its military were committing acts of terrorism in our name, and that the American people should never tolerate that. Some felt that our actions were misguided at best, off-the-tracks, indefensible and even despicable, and that case is not impossible to make. But America’s longest war itself, with all its attendant horrors, was doubly despicable, and while many stood up, who in fact did the right thing; who ended the war; who transformed the world?

We began to think of ourselves as part of the Third World project—revolutionary liberation movements demanding justice and freeing themselves from empire, we believed, would also transform the world. We thought that we who lived in the metropolis of empire had a special duty to “oppose our own imperialism” and to resist our own government’s imperial dreams. Eventually we came to think that we could make a revolution, and that in any case it was our responsibility to try. It was a big stretch, but every revolution is impossible until it occurs; after the fact, every revolution seems inevitable.

All of that was forty years ago—lots of water under the bridge since then, raging rivers and cascading falls, rapids and torrents, chutes and ladders—a long time in the life of a person—the young become the old, and stories get retold. But it’s also a matter of perspective: the meaning of any historical event will always be contested, and the more recent the event, the fiercer the contestation. The last word has not been written about the radical movements of youth in Europe in 1968, and certainly the meaning of the Black Freedom Movement or of the US invasion and occupation of Viet Nam and the various American reactions to that catastrophe—from mindless jingoism to sincere patriotism, from reluctant participation to gung-ho brutality, from protest to armed resistance—are far from settled. We’re reminded of the Chinese premier Chou En Lai responding to a French journalist’s question many years ago about the impact of the 18th Century French revolution on the 20th Century Chinese revolution. He thought for quite awhile and finally said, “It’s too soon to tell.” Forty years is less than the blink of an eye.

The big wheel keeps on turning: events and actions and adventures plunge relentlessly forward and nothing withstands the whirlwind of life on-the-move and history in-the-making. No single narrative can ever adequately speak to the diversity and complexity of human experience, for meaning itself is in the mix, always contested and never easily settled. Because meaning is made and remade in the present tense, our backward glances are now necessarily refracted through the US defeat in Viet Nam, the steady decline of empire, the hollowing out of the economy through militarism, the destruction of our political system, the environmental catastrophe that capitalism wrought, the terror attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent invasions and occupations and wars that continue as defining features of our national life. There is no sturdy accounting of distant times: everything must change, no one and nothing remains the same.

Many who knew and loved them 40 years ago, choose to remember Ted Gold, Diana Oughton, Terry Robbins, Ralph Featherstone, and Che Payne every day as beautiful and committed young people who believed fiercely in peace and justice and freedom, believed further that all men and women are of incalculable value, and thought that they had a personal and urgent responsibility to act on that deep belief. We think of Brecht: a smile is a kind of indifference to injustice. And then we turn to Rosa Luxemburg writing to a friend from prison: love your own life enough to care for the children and the elderly, to enjoy a good meal and a beautiful sunset, to embrace friends and lovers; and love the world enough to put your shoulder on history’s great wheel when required.

We have not forgotten our fallen friends, not for a moment. March 6 is for us a time of more formal remembrance. Their deaths and all that followed offered us an opportunity to reconsider and recover. We were able to recommit and to see that the first casualty of making oneself into an instrument of war is always one’s own humanity, that, in the words of the poet Marge Piercy, “conscience is the sword we wield. Conscience is the sword that runs us through.” We remember our lost comrades, their many brave, as well as their damaging last acts, and we continue to vibrate with the hope and despair they embodied then.

Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn
~~~~~~~~~

Editorial Note:
We reproduce here the first communication from the Weather Underground to show the spirit of the times - and because we still embrace the political and moral validity of that path, as well as its slogan: "Arm the Spirit!"


Communiqué #1 From The Weatherman Underground

From /The Berkeley Tribe/, July 31, 1970. The Red Mountain Tribe.


Hello. This is Bernardine Dohrn.

I'm going to read A DECLARATION OF A STATE OF WAR.

This is the first communication from the Weatherman underground.

All over the world, people fighting Amerikan imperialism look to Amerika's youth to use our strategic position behind enemy lines to join forces in the destruction of the empire.

Black people have been fighting almost alone for years. We've known that our job is to lead white kids into armed revolution. We never intended to spend the next five or twenty-five years of our lives in jail. Ever since SDS became revolutionary, we've been trying to show how it is possible to overcome the frustration and impotence that comes from trying to reform this system. Kids know the lines are drawn revolution is touching all of our lives. Tens of thousands have learned that protest and marches don't do it. Revolutionary violence is the only way.

Now we are adapting the classic guerrilla strategy of the Viet Cong and the urban guerrilla strategy of the Tupamaros to our own situation here in the most technically advanced country in the world.

Ché taught us that "revolutionaries move like fish in the sea." The alienation and contempt that young people have for this country has created the ocean for this revolution.

The hundreds and thousands of young people who demonstrated in the Sixties against the war and for civil rights grew to hundreds of thousands in the past few weeks actively fighting Nixon's invasion of Cambodia and the attempted genocide against black people. The insanity of Amerikan "justice" has added to its list of atrocities six blacks killed in Augusta, two in Jackson and four white Kent State students, making thousands more into revolutionaries.

The parents of "privileged" kids have been saying for years that the revolution was a game for us. But the war and the racism of this society show that it is too fucked-up. We will never live peaceably under this system.

This was totally true of those who died in the New York townhouse explosion. The third person who was killed there was Terry Robbins, who led the first rebellion at Kent State less than two years ago.

The twelve Weathermen who were indicted for leading last October's riots in Chicago have never left the country. Terry is dead, Linda was captured by a pig informer, but the rest of us move freely in and out of every city and youth scene in this country. We're not hiding out but we're invisible.

There are several hundred members of the Weatherman underground and some of us face more years in jail than the fifty thousand deserters and draft dodgers now in Canada. Already many of them are coming back to join us in the underground or to return to the Man's army and tear it up from inside along with those who never left.

We fight in many ways. Dope is one of our weapons. The laws against marijuana mean that millions of us are outlaws long before we actually split. Guns and grass are united in the youth underground.

Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks. If you want to find us, this is where we are. In every tribe, commune, dormitory, farmhouse, barracks and townhouse where kids are making love, smoking dope and loading guns—fugitives from Amerikan justice are free to go.

For Diana Oughton, Ted Gold and Terry Robbins, and for all the revolutionaries who are still on the move here, there has been no question for a long time now—we will never go back.

Within the next fourteen days we will attack a symbol or institution of Amerikan injustice. This is the way we celebrate the example of Eldridge Cleaver and H. Rap Brown and all black revolutionaries who first inspired us by their fight behind enemy lines for the liberation of their people.

Never again will they fight alone.

May 21, 1970

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

23 comments:

  1. 40 years later, the struggle against war and imperialism continues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. the struggle prevails whether its by the gun or by the pie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dearest Bernardine and Bill,

    Thank you for entrusting us with your "MARCH 6, 1970/2010" Communiqué (gawd that word turns the decades spinning backwards and forwards again causing me waves of chills...)

    The survival of our people on our little "unsinkable aircraft carrier" island here in the Muddled Middle East depends on whether (Weather?) or not revolutionaries in Israel and Turkey begin to see themselves in the same spirit as the Weather Underground saw itself within the US, as a part of the oppressed third world in revolt on the side of the "other people", on the side of the people that their countries are now oppressing with genocide and threatening with near extinction.

    This holds true not just for Cyprus but also for the wider global reality as well. "Small 'c' communists" and leftist radicals of all sorts (green, feminist, socialist, communist, anarchist, autonomist radicals) within the European Union and the US are still key factors to the maintainance of a globe-wide system of Empire; if they re-awaken and help their countries' populations re-awaken, there's hope for the world.

    Otherwise, the only other option left for the rest of us is to continue the global war on our own devices - sometimes as a war of liberation; sometimes as a war of patriotic defence of the motherland; sometimes as naked class war; and mostly as a war for the minds of the oppressed, based on love, education and information - until the colonial forces of the US and the EU are destroyed by force from the outside. It's unthinkable, but if radicals WITHIN those countries will not shoulder their social and historical responsibilities, what other option is there for the peoples of the world?

    What you taught by word and action is still a shining beacon - for those who have hearts and eyes to see its meaning and apply it to the tangible realities of the 21st century.

    On behalf of all of us, Thank you! Thank you for being, for surviving, and for your entire path of dedicated service to the whole of humanity.

    Petros, petros@cyprus-org.net
    __________

    ReplyDelete
  4. Aron, wonderful to see you here - YIP!

    Friends, please visit Aron Kay's website here:
    http://pieman.org

    Petros
    _________

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sister of Antigonis8 March 2010 at 11:34

    Neiher your uploads on Weather Underground , nor your implied comrade affiliations with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, neither your references to Sevgül Uludağ, Turgut Durduran, Murat Kanatlı, Eser Keskiner, Münür Rahvancıoğlu who you picture as "your acquaintances and frineds

    http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2010/03/blog-post_07.html

    nor your postings of Sener Levent are able to eliminate your right-wing perceptions of the "biggest racism in Cyprus":
    As you put it in

    http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-post.html

    "ο ανθελληνισμός, η πιό διαδεδομένη και θεσμοθετημένη στον τόπο μας μορφή ρατσισμού, συγκεκαλυμένος και πλασαρισμένος ως "προοδευτική" πολιτική άποψη."
    " anti-hellenism, the most widely spread and institutionalised type of racism in our country, covered and promoted as progressive political view"

    These are the views promoted by the Cyprus Indymedia.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "These are the views promoted by the Cyprus Indymedia"?

    Indeed.
    Just as they ought to be.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Seth Farber in NYC writes:

    Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn are looking at Weatherman through rose-colored glasses.

    Unlike Mark Rudd, a former and repentant Weatherman, they seem to be unable to come to terms with their past, to learn from their mistakes. They convey to young radicals a falsified Orwellian version of history. For example they omit to say that those Weathermen who died in the townhouse explosion were attempting to create an anti-personnel weapon that would explode with nails as projectiles. It was intended by Weatherman to be placed at a policemen's ball attended also by wives -- and children. Only after it killed 3 Weatherman did Weatherman decide to change their strategy -- to not target people.

    Dohrn and Ayers are ideologues who doctor history in order to present the Weatherman as the true heroes of the anti-war movement, an opinion strongly contested by Mark Rudd and others.

    Ayers and Dohrn write that the anti-war movement activists' "task and our obsession, was so simple to state, so excruciatingly difficult to achieve: peace now." Yes, that is true...

    But by the time Weatherman had formed it was committed -- as Dohrn and Ayers acknowledge -- to expanding the anti-imperialist struggle -- at home and abroad. They thought it could be won by encircelement of the US metropole. A Weather slogan was: "Two, three many Vietnams." Nothing is said about the cult of violence, Weatherman's authoritarianism, and the enforced conformity to the Party line -- exemplified by waving the little Red books (Lin Piao as well as Mao -- the former was later murdered by Mao). In fact Dohrn lied recently and said Weatherman's veneration of Charles Manson was intended as a joke. It was not. It was dead serious...

    They write "Some felt that our actions were misguided at best, off-the-tracks, indefensible and even despicable, and that case is not impossible to make But America's longest war itself, with all its attendant horrors, was doubly despicable, and while many stood up, who in fact did the right thing; who ended the war; who transformed the world?" This is an unbelievably arrogant statement. Are they really claiming that the Weatherman ended the war and transformed the world?

    I think they misquoted Rosa Luxemburg -- she was a much better writer than that, not inclined to spouting cliches....

    Certainly it can be said of Ted Gold, Diana Oughton, Terry Robbins that they were individuals of keen conscience who were willing to die to end US's brutal slaughter. But their memory is not well served by telling fairy tales.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for posting this communique, and for Seth's (and others') responses. It would be great if Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and others would respond here as well.

    Seth had attended a Weather gathering in Michigan, I think, while he was in high school and his opinions were formed by Bernardine's terrible statements there in support of Charles Manson at the time.

    Seth sees these as "decisions" of Weather itself. He does the same, I think, with the alleged decision of the 3 in the townhouse explosion in New York to build anti-personnel weapons. But it's not clear to me that these were actual decisions of the movement or organization; nor is it clear that all 3 of them in the townhouse knew what each other was doing. I have a hard time seeing Diana Oughton, for instance, going along with a decision to build anti-personnel bombs -- despite Brian Flanagan's and Mark Rudd's condemnation of these actions and their statements implying that this was indeed a decision by the organization.

    I also think that Seth doesn't fully grasp the logistical difficulties of leaders, let alone decentralized "cells," for making organization-wide decisions while underground. Many, many actions were taken by individuals in the name of the group that the latter had no say over before-hand but that later became seen as "organizational decisions" -- when they were not.

    Seth's right though -- some very good and loving people lost their moral rudders in their fury and commitment to oppose the US government's massive murders in Vietnam, in which over 2 million people were killed -- akin to the Nazis, in my opinion.

    While I don't subscribe to all that Mark Rudd writes -- I thought the first 2/3rds of his recent book "Underground" describing his life in the Movement at Columbia U. was tremendous, brilliant, vivid, puts you right back there -- and that the last 1/3rd was weaker, as though he lost interest in his own life and what he was writing -- I think he IS right about how good people were psychologically stampeded by some people's manipulations of emotions around events, which Wilhelm Reich spoke about so powerfully, and they ended up supporting some pretty revolting statements and actions that had terrible consequences.

    Still, this was all occurring in a VERY brief time frame -- we're talking about a 2 year period here, in which the weight of all the old generations weighed like nightmares on the minds of the living (or walking dead, according to Nachyev). No one remembers today the good work of Weather after 1971 or so, and it was very important (including the publication of "Prairie Fire"). It wasn't only the errors (magnified as they are by the FBI, media, and in memoirs); just about everyone I knew -- in all sorts of different groups -- were very anxious that we in the U.S. were betraying the Vietnamese people who were being bombed as we went about our lives. We worried that any admission of errors, would be used as cudgels against the Movement. So the psychological pressures not only on leadership but on all of us were enormous. We didn't want admission of errors to feed the war machine.

    CONTINUED BELOW

    ReplyDelete
  9. CONTINUED FROM ABOVE

    I wasn't aware, as Seth reports, that Bernardine has made recent statements about Charles Manson or now says that she was just "joking" -- which needs some context here. At the time, she was trying to be outrageous, to break through the bourgeois complacency of Amerika (as she -- and many of us -- saw it). But at the same time, it's not so much that she believed her own rhetoric -- maybe she did, maybe she soon rejected it -- but that she was removed far enough from the reality of what it means to kill someone that she could be so flippant in the face of what was a terrible crime -- the murders of Sharon Tate and the La Biancas. Bernardine must have believed she could not retract it later even if she'd wanted to, because of the concerns I mentioned above. (I'm pretty sure that she would have liked to, later, but it was already done.)

    Everyone makes mistakes, and this one was a "beaut" -- although it was "only" words after the fact; it's not as though she'd performed the actual murders herself. (For that matter, neither did Manson, if I remember correctly.) Our Red Balloon collective at SUNY Stony Brook was generally supportive of the Weather Underground, although we were not members. We were part of that milieu. And I remember feeling betrayed by Weather at the time Bernardine made those statements, wondering what had I gotten myself into, how could she say such things? We all felt similarly. Being part of a collective that was rooted in our community and doing positive work (including Art as well as overt politics) made all the difference in the world in enabling me and the other Red Ballooners to keep things in perspective, walking in balance .... sort of.

    It's not just the errors themselves but how one chooses to correct those errors that is VERY important. In the immediacy of the moment, with all the pressures from a million directions, one has to have (and one has to rely upon) one's core moral integrity to guide you through the confusion -- something that's VERY hard to do if you don't have people around you who have similarly strong moral cores and who love each other and DISCUSS, as a matter of principle, the different manipulations going on (including self-reflectively). Otherwise, we are ALL susceptible to being intimidated (and thus manipulated) by cult leaders disguised as political parties -- the way good folks like Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert were manipulated psychologically into going along with the 1982 Brinks robbery -- convinced that they were supporting that Black Liberation struggle -- and thus were part of the events that ended up in the killing of two guards and our comrades spending the rest of their lives, pretty much, in prison.

    As I got older, I (and of course others) began to see more clearly the psychological tricks that people used on each other -- and on themselves. Our collective examined these as they were going on, and that allowed us to stand clear of some of the crazyness. On the other hand, there were quite a few people who were taking enormous personal risks that we were not doing -- not at that same level, anyway -- and their important commitments gave them, at least in our eyes, a heroic stature that made us unwilling to fully condemn certain things, particularly when they were only "just statements" and not immoral and inexcusable actions.

    Seth, maybe you could describe how you felt back in 1970 or so as well, at the Michigan Weather gathering, that keeps that image so strong in your mind today, as a defining moment in you life.

    And thanks for your thoughts, here. I don't think we agree fully -- in general, perhaps, but not on some important details. But your thoughts open up an honest and important discussion and I appreciate it. Hopefully Petros, Bill, Bernardine and others can join in this discussion as well ....

    Mitchel Cohen
    mitchelcohen@mindspring.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. From SETH FARBER

    I have not gotten around to reading Mark Rudd's book -- since I was preoccupied until recently with finishing my own book. (Originally I did not want to pay $25.) I've read his posts (and articles) criticizing Weatherman. I don't know what Alex Steinberg means when he said about Rudd, "the lesson he learned is that revolution is impossible." I find it hard to believe that because as "impossibe" as "revolutioin" is, it is necessary for survival. Perhaps Rudd has another view of revolution than the reconstructed Maoist view of Weatherman, or the proto-Marxist view.

    I read this year that Ayers claimed Bernardine was joking when she praised Manson. I don't know if that was based on her claim. The exact quote was, "Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in pig Tate's belly. Wild!" She said of the LaBiancas (who were repeatedly stabbed): "Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson!" Some joke!

    I was there and they were dead serious. Manson was a hero because he allegedly broke free of the inhibitions that prevented American radicals from becoming true revolutionaries. That point was made over and over in Flint in 1970.

    It seems to me most unfortunate that neither of them will come to terms with the transformation of sensitive persons into persons who glorified brutality, sadism and murder. (Social psychologists have documented a similar process in the well known Prisoners Dilemma experiment.) I do not know who made all the decisions, and I have not had time to read the various books on Weatherman. So quite possibly some people were more responsible than others.

    But what has been deliberately suppressed by Ayers and Dohrn is the phase in Weatherman's history when they were mirror images of American soldiers who massacred Vietnamese women and children. The fact that Weatherman had originally planned to use an anti-personnel weapon at a policemen ball has been documented extensively. As I recall it was discussed in the Weather movie.

    I don't know if there were any dissenters. ...

    I drove up with some NYU former SDSers (RYM2rs) after a non-Weatherman protest in Chicago -- an alternative to Days of Rage. It was the Flint Michigan conference -- Spring 1970 I think (it could have been '69) I was still in high school. The climate on the left was surrealistic by then. I remember also the last SDS conference -- in Chicago 1969 -- my first introduction to radical politics. Progressive Labor Party was trying to take over SDS. The Non-PLP faction had by then (later I read about the earlier phase of SDS before it before it devolved into different groups each trying to model itself upon Lenin, Stalin or Mao, each claiming to be the 'true' vanguard party) taken up the same style of political debate and personal interaction as PLP. SDS had become a caricature of the old left.

    CONTINUED BELOW

    ReplyDelete
  11. CONTINUED FROM ABOVE (by Seth Farber)

    The Black Panthers sent a representative to the SDS convention to denounce the PLP for being counter-revolutionary. PLP's cardinal sin in the eyes of genuine SDSers was not that it was an authoritarian Stalinist cult but that it dared to criticize the LEADERS of the Revolution: Huey Newton, Ho Chi Minh etc. The climax of the argument entailed SDSers chanting Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh Dare to strruggle, dare to win!" Over and over for 15 minutes. And PLP responded with their own chant: "Mao Mao Mao Tse-Tung....." I cannot recall the rest. PLP was critical of Ho Chi Minh.

    So the spiritual or psychological devolution of what had been the New Left was the background for the emergence of Weatherman -- as of course was the continuing US genocide in Vietnam.

    Although Weatherman criticized the lack of revolutionary action of the rest of the left, they also engaged in endless diatribes/debates, they also invoked Marx Lenin Huey Newton Ho Chi Minh as gods whose opinions demanded quasi religious deference. And they also attacked anyone who did not have the "right-line" as "objectively counter-revolutionary."

    I did not have a critique of all this at the time, as I'd just recently decided I was a "Marxist" in 11th grade. However I was drawn to Marcuse, Aronowitz, Greg Calvert, Carl Oglesby (the later two wrote for the "Guardian" -- the left paper that all radicals read religiously -- or for "Liberation") and other more libertarian, less doctrinaire sections on the left.
    Oglesby's recent memoir is too personally reserved to capture the spirit of the New Left -- for which he had been the most eloquent spokesperson. But he does capture very well the transformation he decried sat nte [?] time, he does reproduce with versimilitude well the emotionally detached rhetoric and denunciations that had become common currency on the left, particularly of Bernardine Dohrn, whom he called "BD". Oglesby had been friends with Bernadine Dohrn. But Dohrn became contemptuous of him by 1969 for his "liberalism" and his failure to understand "Marxist-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung thought" -- as it was called.

    Dohrn -- a University of Chicago law student graduate -- was among the smartest and the most doctrinaire among the left. Since she was a "leader" it was easy for her to fall into a "power-trip," as Oglesby describes. She even accused Oglesby of being a federal agent because of his proposal to collaborate with libertarians in expanding the anti-war movement. The left was becoming the mirror image of the very kind of authoritarianism and cultishness it had originally criticized in the Old Left.

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  12. CONTINUED (from Seth Farber)

    The conference in Flint Michigan was not a formative event in my own life but it certainly made a memorable impression on me. I felt I had just fallen down the rabbit hole. Several months before Mark Rudd has burst into an NYU SDS meeting with a few other comrades and announced the revolution was starting. I remember in Flint Michigan I first learned about the new Weatherman salute which was to extend several fingers of one hand as a symbol of the pitchfork that was plunged into Sharon Tate's belly. Several speakers -- I think one was Bernadine -- talked about the importance of freeing oneself from "bourgeois inhibitions" that stood in the way of the revolution.This was key because Weatherman saw themselves as the vanguard for the revolution in the metropole which would assists the Third World revolutionaries in defeating imperialism. To carry this off Weatherman proposed to recruit alienated white working class youth and political hippies/yippies, and to build up "youth culture" (LSD, hard rock) as a revolutionary force. If the Weaherman did not free themselves from their bourgeois inhibitions (fear of dying and of killing) the Third World revolution would not succeed -- and the project of the Weatherman would have failed.

    Weatherman would then be just like the other SDS wimps who were afraid to act. Every person that spoke at Flint thought Charles Manson was "cool" -- a working class revolutionary. He was a white working class youth who killed a woman (actually gave the orders to kill) who embodied the decadent bourgeois life style that led to the exploitation of the Third World. Thus her murder was an exemplary act. In the Weatherman movie of 2005 Brian Flanagan aptly spoke about how the war had led the Weather people to become deranged so that the acceptance of murder came to seem normal -- an act of moral righteousness.

    The Weather people were definitely deranged. I doubt that any of them 5 yrs before Flint would have thought it was cool to stick a pitchfork in a pregnant woman's belly -- no matter how rich she was. But now it had become transformed into a symbol of the kind of freedom from bourgeois inhibitions that was necessary to carry out the revolution and enable the Third World to vanquish the imperialists and put an end to exploitation. That's why the murder of Sharon Tate who lived 'high on the hog' in Hollywood -- much like many of the Weatherman's parents (as Weatherman tended to come from the wealthiest segments of the radical movement) -- was admirable.

    As Weatherman saw it Sharon Tate was a beneficiary of imperialism and she deserved to die.

    At Flint there was a chant for several minutes venerating Manson -- I forget the words. After that Weatherman gave out lyrics to special Weather songs/ I think these were intended to be at least half humorous/ They were creative -- they were traditional songs with new lyrics extolling the revolution. Unfortunately I forgot most of them. All I remember is the song "Everything in life is free, if you steal it from the bourgeoisie." Then a couple people got up to recount their revolutionary deeds on the airplane to Flint. This involved sneaking into first class and "accidentally" pushing a bourgeois passenger's face into his food. This was an example of another excellent way to shock the bourgeoisie and overcome one's own counter-revolutionary inhibitions.

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  13. CONCLUDING from above
    (SETH FARBER)

    The Weatherman had also come up with another way of overcoming repression of capitalist society. As a result of male chauvinism women had become estranged from each other and thus rendered powerless. In order to overcome this disempowerment Weatherman women were encouraged to have sex with each other. I don't know if a male or female Weather person came up with this approach. This technique was not confined to the bedroom. Weather women made out passionately with each other throughout the conference. At that time Bernadine Dohrn was a stunning woman so watching her make out with various women tended to distract me from the speeches about Chairman Mao. The Weather men were not encouraged to overcome their alienation through homosexual activities. Monogamy was considered to be another bourgeois inhibition that had to be smashed. Obviously the sexual experimentation was not as nefarious as the glorification of murder -- but all these techniques were part of the strategy to create "a new man/woman." I do not remember the details of Weatherman's ideological trajectory after Flint, although I received their paper.

    What disturbs me is the attempt on the part of Dohrn and Ayers to present a glorified image of the Weatherman to young radicals today. Yet something very wrong happened in the late 60s.

    How could these people have created a new society when in certain important respects they had become as inhuman as the capitalists? It was a recapitulation in microcosm of what occurred in Stalinist Russia or during the French revolution.

    Like everyone else as the war dragged on in the 70s I felt a sense of victory when I read about Weatherman's bombings -- in which no one was injured. Like most of the left I admired the Weatherman's willingness to die for the cause.

    But none of this excuses Ayers' and Dohrn's dishonesty today. Dohrn knows very well she was not joking about Charles Manson. She knows very well the depths to which the Weatherman had descended in Flint. The fact that they refuse to acknowledge or confront this is a sign of their dereliction of responsibility, their failure to learn from the past and to pass on the lessons they learned to new generations of radicals. People like Rudd are to be commended.

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  14. Sister of Antigonis9 March 2010 at 13:39

    "We've just received this communication from our friends and comrades Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn "

    Really is a big posting and couldn´t yet read it much attention. But either way, Cyprus Indymedia is trying to make an issue about itself as having "friends and commrades" in the US since it has been practically and politically unable to have them here. Cyprus indymedia is trying to set up another scene of a favourable spectacle for a potential audience the social and political dynamic of which is of no real interest to Cyp. Indym. in fact! Cyprus Indymedia is making bad use of the term: is using Indymedia to promote "hellenism" as a radical view (people who haved lived in Cyprus for some time can easily see that "hellenism" is the prevailing view .
    Solon and Peter? No they can´t. More or less....... "The fact that they refuse to acknowledge or confront this is a sign of their dereliction of responsibility, their failure to learn from the past "

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  15. No Year required

    "These last few days I've been immersed in reading Bill Ayer's 'Fugitive Days'. It's gotten me shifting in and out of a mental~emotional fugue affecting my language skills severely: tenses conflating into one another with ripped apart time references; jumbled memories of my own teen years in the clandestine resistance rising up gasping for air..."

    http://cyprusindymedia.blogspot.com/2008/11/no-year-required.html

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  16. Sister of Antigonis10 March 2010 at 09:10

    Your teen years Petro belong to the past (a distant one if I may say. I am referring to this not out of agism but only to point out that you have a remarkable time and probably conceptual distance from that).
    In the present you prefer to endeavour in the project of merging right-wing ideology -hellenism in Cyprus is banned (!!!)- with a glimpse of ´radicalish´ issues such as articles on which political juggler is better than the other (Kolokasides from right -wing Democratic Party, DIKO, is a brillinat politician vs Karogian from Democratic Party, DIKO, who is a bad politician). Indymediaish issues indeed.......
    In the meantime you have succeeded in having no political alliances in Cyprus, have made a fool of Indymedia and have managed to conduct a ferocious and vicious criticism from the security of your computer screen.

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  17. Bill & Bernardine:

    "indefensible and even despicable" Right on and enough said, save me the rest of your self-justifying bullshit.

    If you really want to show us the strength of your convictions why don't the 2 of you take some rope, or a pistol, go for a long walk into some deep woods and just not come back, it's not too late to pay your debt to society

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  18. I'm very glad to see this article and the resulting discussion. (That is, except for the comments by 'sister of antigonis' and 'anonymous' which are entirely irrelevant.) Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Predatorial corporations using unethical practices to screw it's customers is abominable.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sister of Antigonis19 March 2010 at 19:36

    SueS,
    Irrelevant can be whatever we cannot see as relavant.

    The fact is that Cyprus indymedia has a carefully layd out double face, more or less seems irrelevant to you:
    your articles in english deal with -maybe disputable, but nevertheless under the circamstances- progressive forces abroad. At the same time it keeps on running around its tail as far as the articles in greek is conserned, barking about how much anti-hellinism there is in Cyprus!!Progressive as well...

    Let me make the (relevant)point clear for you: Cyprus indymedia can no longer full anyone with this double - face tactics.!

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