[sixties-l] [Fwd: I'm on national Web TV Monday]

From: William M Mandel (wmmmandel@earthlink.net)
Date: Mon Aug 14 2000 - 16:26:16 CUT

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] GARCIA APPEARS IN PARK"

    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: I'm on national Web TV Monday
    Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 11:21:29 -0700
    From: William M Mandel <wmmmandel@earthlink.net>
    Reply-To: freepacifica@recordist.com

    Monday 5:45 Eastern Time, 4:45 Central, 3:45 Mountain, 2:45
    Pacific, I'll be interviewed on www.PlayTV.com (the Alex
    Bennett Show) about my autobiography, SAYING NO TO POWER.
    The interviewer focused on the period of McCarthyism and my
    thinking and emotions leading to the sensational nature and
    continuing interest in my testimonies, and the consequences
    (I was portrayed under my own name in a play, "McCarthy,"
    that ran seven months in Los Angeles 35 years after that
    1953 hearing; in six documentary films that include the 1960
    hearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee
    [the latest is just out], and at least a dozen national TV
    specials including one this year. My book is described in
    the "Foley's Books" column of the current issue of the
    online literary journal, Alsop Review. It reads:

        Creative Arts Book Company

        Let's drink a toast to all those farmers, workers,
    artists, and intellectuals of the last one hundred years
    who, without thought of fame or profit--not motivated by a
    thirst for power--whose motivations were compassionate and
    humanitarian--worked tirelessly in their dream of a
    world-wide socialist revolution. Who believed and hoped that
    a new world was dawning, and that their work would
    contribute Wo a society in which one class does not exploit
    another, where one ethnic group or one nation does not try
    to expand itself over another, and where men and women lived
    freely as equals. The people who nourished these hopes and
    dreams were sometimes foolishly blind to the opportunism of
    their own leadership, and many were led into ideological
    absurdities, but the great majority of them selflessly
    worked for socialism with the best of hearts. Their dreams
    proved futile, and "actually existing socialism" became a
    blight on the century almost equal to that of Nazism. What
    we have now is nervous third world fundamentalism and
    developed-world global greed. The failure of socialism is
    the tragedy of the 20th century, and on this day, May Day,
    at least, we should honor the memory of those who struggled
    for the dream of what socialism might have been. And begin a
    new way again.
                --Gary Snyder, "May Day Toast, for the Workers
    of the World, for the year 2000"

                "[T]he only thing permanent in the world is
                        --William Mandel

        In 1960, summoned to appear before the House Un-American
    Activities Committee (HUAC), author and Soviet affairs
    expert William Mandel said,

        "If you think I will cooperate in any way with this
    collection of Judases, of men who sit there in violation of
    the United States Constitution, if you think I will
    cooperate with you in any manner whatsoever, you are

        In 1953 Mandel had similarly stood up to Senator Joseph
    McCarthy and Roy Cohn (like Mandel, a Jew). "I was," he
    writes, 'a very angry man."

        Saying No To Power is a demonstration of far more than
    Mandel's anger, though at times anger emerges as a primary
    theme. A red diaper baby born in 1917 who narrowly escaped
    being named "Karl Marx Mandel"--he is "William Marx
    Mandel"--Mandel was both activist and observer of the
    revolution which began in the year he was born: "Between my
    father's interest in social change and my mother's in
    culture...," he writes, "I chose to follow my father."

        Following his father meant not only following the path
    of revolutionary activity but suppressing "creative
    imagination...in favor of logic and disciplined thought."
    The author's activism manifested early, and the chapters on
    "kid power" are some of the most interesting in the book.
    Even more importantly, from 1931 to 1932 the Mandel family
    was in Russia, where the young William could learn Russian
    and observe the Soviet experiment from close up. It was a
    rich, determining moment in his life, and it placed him in a
    unique position.

        If Mandel, following the logic of his father's
    convictions, joined the Communist Party in 1935, he also
    honored his mother's awareness of culture. Saying No To
    Power is full of wonderful descriptions of growing up in
    America. If you don't know what "stickball" and
    "belly-whopping" are, this book can tell you. You will also
    find discussions of Benny Leonard, "Legs" Diamond, Red
    Skelton, Father Coughlin, and other more or less forgotten
    figures. "Mickeys," Mandel tells us, is an ancient slang
    term for "potatoes": he and his friends "roasted mickeys in
    a can over a coal fire in an empty lot on Boston Road near
    my junior high school in the East Bronx." Later, he gives us
    a tremendous description of a demonstration following the
    execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg--a set piece worthy
    of some of the great moments of John Dos Passos' USA.
        Mandel's keen intelligence and powers of observation
    hold him in good stead throughout the book, and the material
    dealing with his career as an author and his thirty-seven
    years as a radio commentator on Berkeley station KPFA (he
    was "an expert on Soviet affairs") is fascinating. But his
    central story is that of the loss of faith in what he
    describes as a kind of religion: Communism. Like many who
    have lost their faith, Mandel has nothing to replace it
    with: "Until the collapse of the Soviet Union and, with it,
    my faith in Marxist socialism, family was always secondary
    in my consciousness. Trying to change the world came first."
    Now, "there is no longer a Utopian ideal I believe in."
    Mandel would not endorse Gary Snyder's "May Day Toast"
    description of "actually existing socialism" as "a blight on
    the century almost equal to that of Nazism," however. Though
    often critical of the U.S.S.R., Mandel has always been at
    pains to point out the genuine accomplishments of the Soviet
    regime--which is the burden of the wonderful radio piece,
    included here, "If I Were Gorbachev."
        There are undoubtedly reasons to fault William Mandel.
    The book is too long, and has too many commendatory letters
    in it. Though Mandel is often brilliant in analyzing the
    world around him--and is scrupulously honest in doing so--he
    is less successful in turning the lens upon himself. He can
    be arrogant, insensitive, extravagantly self-promoting, and
    utterly blind to his own motivations. (At one point, in a
    fury, he beat his daughter's head against the floor. One of
    his sons had to remind him of the incident, which had
    slipped his mind.!) The material in the book could be
    scrutinized from a psychological point of view, and a very
    different portrait would emerge. "I was out to cut his balls
    off," he says of his encounter with Senator Joseph
    McCarthy--not only veiled Oedipal feelings but equally
    veiled castration anxiety, which occurs as well in some of
    the author's early encounters with gays. (Mandel is
    nevertheless entirely supportive of the struggle for gay
    rights.) The book at times suggests that Mandel's
    consciousness was entirely awash in what he calls "towering
    rage," and he tells us he found "relief" from such feelings
    in the terrors of hairpin driving. Unlucky the driver who
    encountered him on the road at night! He can be sentimental.

        Yet, all that said, no one can deny William Mandel his
    magnificent social passion and the sheer aliveness of his
    consciousness. Saying No To Power is not only a moving
    autobiography but a first-hand testimony to many of the most
    significant events of the Twentieth Century. "Don't
    oversimplify," Mandel writes: "Life, and politics, and
    individual human beings are extremely complicated and
    internally contradictory."

        At various moment, William Mandel offended everybody,
    Communist and Capitalist. He was expelled from the Communist
    Party in 1952, though he was not actually informed of this
    and went on for the next four years trying to pay his dues
    and attend meetings: "no one would accept the money and no
    one would tell me where the meetings would occur." He
    officially quit the Party in 1957. Though he published many
    books, no publisher would touch him for the fifteen years
    following 1946. He was fired from KPFA in 1995. Even in the
    worst periods he managed to get his message out. We are vry
    lucky to have had him, both on the page and on the airwaves.
    The times he lived in perhaps made a hero of him, but it is
    equally true that his insights focused the times in such a
    way that we understand them far better than we would have
    without his insights. Saying No To Power beautifully
    articulates one of the deep myths of America. If Mr. Deeds
    won't do it for you, Mr. Mandel will. He acted with courage,
    intellligence, and flamboyance at a time when courage,
    intelligence, and flamboyance were precisely what the
    Establishment was trying to eliminate.

        It's too bad that William Mandel feels he no longer has
    a Utopian ideal towards which he can strive. If one were to
    arise before him--and it might--we can be sure that, even at
    the age of eighty-three, he would move energetically towards
    its realization. Indeed, despite his apostasy, he remains
    what he has been throughout his long and fruitful carrer: an

         "Would to God that all the Lord's people were

    by Jack Foley

    Because of the need to rebuild my mailing list due to
    inadvertent destruction, this may be going to some who
    previously asked to be removed. My apologies. If you desire
    removal, reply "Opt Out."

    You may find of interest my website www.BillMandel.net

    This message comes via the freepacifica list. To subscribe
    or unsubscribe,
    send a single word email to

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Aug 14 2000 - 21:50:08 CUT