Re: [sixties-l] RE: Vietnam retrospective

From: robert (
Date: 10/30/00

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    At 12:53 AM 10/29/00 -0700, you wrote:
    >Had I not lived and been an activist in the 60s and for quite a few
    >years before, I would get very little sense of what was actually going
    >on in the US and around the world from reading this pervasive thread,
    >one that seems to make those who went beyond the bounds of what might be
    >considered acceptable TODAY in challenging the global criminality of the
    >US government at the time, which is scarcely any less today but has not
    >produced a similar movement.
    >Marty suggests or implies that had we not denigrated the anti-war forces
    >within the Democratic Party, we would have been more successful?  In
    >doing what? In stopping the war? Was it the movement's fault that these
    >potential allies within the Democratic Party, whoever they might have
    >been, were silent? Please.
    	Perhaps, the objective outcomes would not have been different, perhaps the
    war covert or otherwise would have persisted as long as it did if we had
    been politically more savy in recognizing rather than knocking potential
    allies. Perhaps, we would have beem more "successful" from the standpoint
    of internal cohesion within the movement itself, and would have done better
    in transmitting organizational structures and experiences to the next
    generation. That's my own take in retrospect on those "roads not taken" and
    suspect that Marty might concur. 
    Robert Houriet 
    >The Panthers did not confuse theater with reality.  They were responding
    >to a reality in which Oakland police, recruited exclusively from the
    >South, were shooting and killing young black men on a regular basis.
    >With all their shortcomings, they were able to politicize young black
    >men and women across the US and their influence carried into the Latino
    >and Asian communities as well as abroad. Their success and their real or
    >imagined potential, as the government saw it, marked them for
    >infiltration and destruction.
    >If anything, the movement's problems was not criticizing US behavior but
    >not being able to articulate it outside of our own circles in a
    >meaningful way.  One of the reasons which was obvious to me at the time
    >was a pride in "anti-intellectualism" that ran through much of the
    >movement. People didn't need to study, to actually know the details of
    >our history; going on one's gut feelings was good enough. Nevertheless,
    >they were on the right side of history, and those who supported the war,
    >for whatever reason, were not.
    >Jeff Blankfort
    > Marty Jezer <> wrote:
    >> There are "excesses" and there are excesses.
    >>  Yes, there'll always be individuals and small groups doing stupid
    things. The
    >> excesses at issue
    >> here are fundamental flaws in strategic thinking and planning by important
    >> leaders and organizations; e.g.,
    >> SDS, the Mobe, the Yippies, and the more sectarian groups: YAWF, etc.,
    and the
    >> Motherfuckers.
    >> We believed ourselves moving towards, or actually in, a revolutionary
    >> situation. In retrospect we weren't even close.
    >> We denigrated and thus didn't understand the fracturing of the pro-war
    >> consensus within the Democratic Party
    >> and among its corporate supporters.
    >> We confused theater with reality. The Panther's parading into the
    >> legislature with guns was great
    >> political theater, but the police took it as reality and responded in kind.
    >> We took provocative actions against the state without preparation for
    what it
    >> would do in response.
    >> We, or at least elements in SDS, greatly misunderstood the youth culture
    >> I can go on..
    >> I don't think these errant policies were based entirely on ignorance.
    They were
    >> the result of our experience
    >> (and inexperience). We were caught up in a cauldron that we -- and the
    state --
    >> did not anticipate and for which we
    >> were unprepared. We were also young, and youth creates a political
    dynamic of
    >> its own.
    >> We didn't create the backlash. Social change creates backlash. Where we
    >> was delighting in it, believing that it would work for us.  It didn't.
    The left
    >> (or the progressive movement) does not suffer from a lack of good
    programs; it
    >> suffers, first from money-driven politics which denies us a
    level-playing field
    >> in the "free market" of ideas; and we suffer from (still!) fall-out from
    >> sixties, a political culture that delights in cultural and social
    >> for the sake of "putting people down," the comfort of seeing ourselves as
    >> alienated outsiders (since we think we can't win, we don't have to
    follow the
    >> rules (customs) of the game (our political culture); a feeling
    reinforced every
    >> time we lose or are attacked); and a knee-jerk anti-Americanism that views
    >> everything American as awful, and thus prevents us from using the positive
    >> aspects of the American tradition to leverage social change.
    >> Each of these sentences deserves an essay of explanation. They form a major
    >> part of my book, Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel.
    >> Abbie at his best understood a lot of this. At his worst, he undermined
    his own
    >> insights.
    >> Marty Jezer

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