[sixties-l] Re:FSM credits (decision-making)

From: Michael Rossman (mrossman@igc.org)
Date: 10/19/00

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    William Mandel writes:
    "When the Executive Committee voted for the Sproul Hall sit-in, I argued for a
    strike instead 'because I knew how much energy needed to raise funds for bail
    and lawyers would be diverted from the movement. People would be hurt....The
    night of the FSM event [sit-in] I went home, only to be roused by a phone call
    from son Dave....I went down, and at perhaps two or three in the morning a
    very pregnant young woman was permitted by the police to leave Sproul Hall.
    She came to me and told me of the decision of the Steering Committee: 'O.K.,
    Mr. Mandel, you have your strike.'"
    Solipsistic perspective may encourage Mandel's misapprehension, and consequent
     misrepresentation, of decision-making processes in the FSM. Though I might
    like to boast to my grandchildren how the Steering Committee "ordered"  the
    strike from the bowels of Sproul as arrests began, I shall be gladder to say
    that we did not, and that this decision was quite beyond our control. The
    tactic of a general strike had been discussed from the time of the cop-car
    standoff, if not earlier; and one theme of our strategy thereafter -- not only
    in ExCom and Steering Committee, but in the GCC and beyond -- had been to
    develop the conditions and committments that would make it possible and
    effective. When news of the administration's penultimate atrocity spread,
    everyone knew there would be a sit-in. By the time ExCom met to approve it,
    the GCC was already actively preparing for the strike, capping long planning
    by many. The only issues were when and how these actions would proceed. As I
    read it, the functions of Steering Committee and ExCom were simply
    coordinative at this time, aligning the functions of many independent agents.
    We delayed the sit-in until Wednesday for good reason, but could hardly have
    delayed it further without inviting many to begin it spontaneously. The strike
    could hardly begin before the sit-in, but once that was underway it proceeded
    inexorably. The idea that we could have forestalled or even delayed it, from
    inside Sproul Hall, is ludicrous. Even the idea that ExCom or Steering
    Committee "decided" the Sproul sit-in is misleading, for these agencies were
    as powerless to prevent it.
    Michael Rossman <mrossman@igc.org>

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