[sixties-l] Re: FSM credits

From: Michael Rossman (mrossman@igc.org)
Date: 10/12/00

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    Bill Mandel wtrote,
     "The [FSM] Executive Committee made policy, and Goines' book contains more
    than one error and omission. Michael Lerner's flair for public relations
    applied in the FSM as later.  He asked me if I would debate Clark Kerr. I
    responded by asking Lerner what made him think Kerr would agree to debate me?"
    I don't doubt the specificity of your memory of this encounter, Bill. But I
    question its timing, which accords more probably with the spring following the
    FSM or later, on grounds independent of Lerner -- for  as Kerr would not even
    speak with us privately during the conflict's course, save once during the
    cop-car trucemaking, a public challenge to debate were empty rhetoric. Had we
    seriously proposed debate, then or later, I imagine it would have been with
    Mario or Michael Tigar as our representative rather than an elder. Had an
    elder had been proposed, he would most logically have been your peer Hal
    Draper, whose pamphlet on The Mind of Clark Kerr had brought the textures of
    Kerrr's managerial thinking most vividly to our attention.
    As for Lerner, your anecdote can be construed as applying only to that
    following spring, when we know he was present and noticeable on campus. But
    it's disturbing to see you insist, on no evidence more apparent than your
    recall, that "Lerner's flair . . . applied in the FSM," in view of Jo
    Freeman's more-buttressed assessment agreeing with mine that he was not
    visible in the FSM. What disturbs me is less the particular about Lerner, than
    what your insistence in this instance may imply. For I must say, in all
    sincerity, that although I often am put off by how you couch them, my views
    have often been gratefully informed by your historical observations and
    perspectives, and I would quite regret coming more to doubt their precision
    and dependability.
    As for Goines' book, in the course recently of archiving the FSM's documents
    and  venturing deeper writing about it,  I have come both to appreciate even
    more the richness of texture and detail that Goines chronicles, and to
    recognize how much of the action and beast of our movement remains invisible
    in this and all other histories combined. Even so, I doubt that Goines simply
    neglected Lerner. Jo's summary -- "If Lerner was even a participant, let alone
    in the leadership, someone should have noted it some place" -- remains for you
    to deal with, though her unseemly taunt may have distracted your attention
    from the challenge. 
    As for your enthusiastic appraisal, here and earlier, of  the Executive
    Committee's place in the FSM, I would chide you more for vague memory and
    idealization if the mainstream of summary views did not so nearly accord with
    yours. Nonetheless, closer attention to the detailed textures of the episode
    will show immediately  that ExCom's control and direction of the Steering
    Committee  was quite sporadic, in some junctures operating nearly in reverse,
    at times in ways that occasioned hot debate and active dissension. Beyond
    this, I think that both bodies were as much led as leading, as much moved as
    moving, in ways too intricate and deep to begin to discuss here, though I am
    trying privately to explore them.
    	Michael Rossman <mrossman@igc.org>

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