[sixties-l] The Sixties discussion at Barnard last night

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 11/16/00

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    Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000 09:23:30 -0800 (PST)
    From: jim Dingeman <jimdingeman@yahoo.com>
    Subject: The Sixties discussion at Barnard last night
    I want to thank the organizers of the event at Barnard
    last night for fusing together ruminations of
    differences and similarities between the sixties and
    present activism. It was thoughtful and provocative.
    I personally think these type of discussions should go
    on a regular basis with differing perspectives of then
    and now explored.
    A comment written in the early seventies came to mind
    after I left the forum and that is that during the
    sixties,especially the late sixties, every year became
    a new generation. People who became radicalized in 64'
    were different to some extent than people who became
    radicalized in 67',68',69' and afterwards. Another
    question to be explored would be the entire gamut of
    the counter-culture and how that interacted in depth
    with what was happening then and what functions this
    way now in contrast-i.e,hip-hop,rap,etc. The
    relationship of artistic expression and its
    relationship to political activism in all its forms
    is another intriguing issue to think about and talk
    about. The rise of avant guard performance art/theater
    thrust itself immediately into the political/cultural
    milieu of the day.
    The issue of the utility or lack thereof of involving
    oneself in the electoral process is another issue that
    resounds today. I am sure many people involved in the
    Nader Campaign might have been involved in the Robert
    Kennedy/McCarthy/McGovern efforts of that era. Some of
    the very same issues arise today and a thoughtful back
    and forth on them is important.
    The Gay movement and the Woman's Movement is another
    aspect of what happened that most certainly re-emerged
    and took shape in many forms that remain with us
    Obviously, the complex issue of the Civil Rights
    Movement, the rise of the Black Power Movement and the
    phenomena of groups like the BPP need to be
    thoughtfully examined with a lively interchange between
    activists of fortyish and fityish ilk and younger
    The thorny issue of the question of armed
    struggle (always a tough topic to discuss) was raised
    by several speakers and is deserving of more
    thoughtful, probing and non-hagiographic examination.
    Some of us back then had serious difference and
    problems with the plunge of some into the Weather
    Underground and other manifestations of revolutionary
    discontent and expression. King Downing raised the
    issue of COINTELPRO and the uncanny drudging up of
    similar tactics in the Puppet Raid in Philly. These
    issues deserve serious and CRITICAL attention. At the
    same time, the left sometimes because of the REALITY
    of government repression has been unwilling to place
    its own practices in front of a self-critical mirror.
    I have seen time and time again any dissidence with a
    DOMINANT LINE dismissed as the perspective of agents
    provocateurs/COINTELPRO. This summary attitude to
    dissonant views is a aspect of movement culture that
    has lingered to this day and must be thoughtfully
    pondered with the legitimate fears and REALITIES of
    government repression, again a topic for a night in
    and of itself.
    My problem in the sixties with the SMASH THE STATE
    rhetoric was that all successful
    revolutions (FRENCH,BOLSHEVIK,CHINESE,CUBAN,etc.) had
    depended on the winning over of the armed apparatus of
    the state or at least its neutralization . The French
    Army of Louis XVI DID NOT intervene in 1789 to smash
    the summer revolts in Paris. The Russian Army of 1917
    led the February revolt in 1917 that toppled the Tsar
    and set up Revolutionary Committees throughout the
    entire military. One MAJOR problem of the anti-war
    movement in the early years was its stance and
    relationship to the mass of G.I's being conscripted or
    volunteered to fight in the  Vietnam War. The issue of
    the GI Movement and the subsequent Vietnam Veterans
    against the War (not just VVAW but a wider
    manifestation) needs to be explored and probed with a
    then and now perspective. Defense Policy issues would
    linger in whatever new society is created and this
    needed to be grappled with.
    Finally, the thorny issue of class itself is a problem
    that always remains. The fact that George Wallace had
    a large support base from white working class and
    lower middle class Americans in the sixties has shaped
    American political discourse ever since. The famous
    Southern Strategy of the Republican Part was shaped
    with this in mind. Many movement people worked in the
    South and elsewhere and I think a serious look at
    issues like this, with a then and now interchange
    could be the basis of several
    forum/discussions/reflections/what is to be done type
    Thanks again for organizing a event long overdue and
    that will hopefully spark further contemplation and
    Jim Dingeman

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