---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 12:59:43 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: More on 'Fugitive Days'
More on 'Fugitive Days'
Interesting discussion but who wrote this nonsense (unsigned) below? It is
disgusting. It's as obtuse and as jigoistic as David Horowitz. )Worse than
Todd Gitlin who sounds more and more like David Horowitz these days.) He
writes, " Never has freedom and prosperity been so widely spread as in our
country today." Boy he gone a long way down since his days in the
"resistance." It seems he lost his brain altogether since his SDS days.
The author evidently regards junk food, ecological degradation, the Oprah
Show, and McDonald's as evidence of US's cultural superiority!
No wonder he does not sign this garbage.
More on 'Fugitive Days'
From: Jack Zylman
Subject: RE: 'Fugitive Days' -- an exchange
I have followed the exchange begun by "Fugitive Days"
with interest. I was active in those days, both in the
South, my home, and in Chicago, where I was in school,
and then in Boston, where I was an activist-minister.
It seems clear that the left continues to struggle with
difficulty with the subject of violence. I had to deal
with that early on, in the 50s, when I was facing the
KKK and Bull Connor in B'ham, and then a KKK chapter at
Columbia Theological School in Decatur, GA, where it
was organized due to my activities in the civil rights
movement. I used a non-violent 45 automatic (it was
never fired in anger, but pulled in defense) to good
purpose, until a series of discussions with Dr. King
convinced me that it was counter-productive to the
movement and I abandoned it.
I look back on the days of struggle with interest in
the subject of non-violence. When one notes how few
people were actually killed in the movement in those
days, particularly in the directly non-violent portions
of it, it is remarkable. One person killed in the
Selma struggle. One on the road to Montgomery. Very
few in Birmingham - the 4 little girls were after the
The killings were notable, of course, but actually few
in number, when there could have been a slaughter. I do
not discard them at all - my personal friend Rev. Jim
Reeb was killed and I and many others were beaten and
jailed. But the violence of the state and the right
were seriously limited.
I have come to believe that non-violence is powerful,
and that it can make tremendous differences in limiting
the violence of the other side, in winning the people
to our side, and in achieving victories such as we won
in the South in those days.
I think also, looking at the evidence in the world,
that righteous revolutions won violently carry that
violence into their revolutionary states and
institutions, and it seems to poison them.
I don't have time to go on, but I think that violence
is a dysfunctional tool for a movement for social
change, and for a revolution.
Finally, having known the student and New Left movement
those days, I suggest that violence is either a
spontaneous self-defense tool (or for others), or is a
tool of ego-enhancement such as that of the
Weatherpeople. It's a high, and I think that when we
bring our egos into the movement, and try to use the
movement to enhance our own egos - and the Weatherfolks
weren't the only ones to do this, that it pollutes the
movement. We can poison it very easily.
From: John Crawford
Subject: Re: 'Fugitive Days'
I have nothing but praise for Ethan Young's response to
my criticism of his earlier introduction to Cathy
Wilkerson's review of "Fugitive Days" by Bill Ayers:
his clarity of response, his honesty about the past,
and the lessons he draws from that time. Taken
together, in fact, the Wilkerson review and Young's
comments are helpful to those of us who observed rather
than participated in the actions of this particular
group. It's particularly helpful to show how initial
mistakes spiralled out of control in an atmosphere of
increasing violence and provocation, coming
unfortunately from both the police and the Weathermen.
And one can only agree that the first consideration of
any movement should be not only who will be put at risk
but who will be served by its actions.
I'd like to address a question to the creators of and
subscribers to portside, who've made it such a useful
source of information in recent years. Since the end of
the 1960's many of us, alone and together, have
experienced the successes and heartbreaks of working
within the movement for social change in America. Many
of us too have attempted to record some of the stories
and thoughts of our predecessors, the generation born
between 1900 and 1920 who became leaders and fighters
during the depression and the events of World War II
and the McCarthy period. There were some notable
successes of documentation. Now another generation has
passed, and sadly many "old timers" are gone. Those of
us born in the 30's and 40's are aging, and those who
participated in the movement of the late 60's through
the 80's have seen a lot of history go by.
What I'm leading up to is this: Isn't it time to
perform the service of documentation again, on a large
scale? Some institutions around the country are doing
just this: labor history societies, libraries of social
research and the like. But book and serial publication
lags behind the collection of resources, partly because
of the debacle of the late 80's and partly because of
the economic restructuring of the country which has
wiped out many means of dissemination of information
that were present several decades ago: alternative
bookstores, publishers, and distributors, non-profit
social change organizations with literature
concentrations, and so on.
We need a progressive, democratic organization or group
of organizations in the future that could establish an
initiative where history is recreated and disseminated,
whether in the form of books, on-line materials, or
serial publications, and where attention is paid to the
movements of the latter half of the twentieth century,
both its successes and the failures: civil rights, the
labor movement, the anti-war movement, people's
culture, and the organized left. The challenges to
doing this as a concerted activity are, of course,
immense. Sectarianism has not vanished, suppression of
information is still practiced by our government, and
the economics of support are even worse than they were
in the 70's and 80's. But the need to tap our
collective living memory is great. How could the
organizations dedicated to change work with allies such
as independent publishers, university publishers and
others to produce such a broad-based program? Where
would such a discussion even begin?
(For the record, I was a working journalist on the left
during the 70's and have been the publisher of West End
Press, an independent publishing company, since 1976.
We've published, among others, the works of Don West,
Thomas McGrath, Meridel Le Sueur, Pablo Neruda, poems
from the workshops of Nicaragua, working class
litrature, and many contemporary writers, especially
women of color. In recent years I've stayed in touch
with a number of friends and colleagues in the progress
academic and publishing areas.)
That's my contribution to what I hope would be an
"You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the Wind blows" Bob Dylan
I was there too, joined some SDS meetings, though I'm not a "Joiner",
marched for Civil Rights and against the Viet Nam War (even as my Dad worked
at Martin -Marietta to design Missile systems). I am disgusted with the
Democrats' impotency and abhor the Right-wing Coup. I'd love to see a
viable third party, probably the Greens, make it, but am convinced that
until we re-structure the Two-Party voting system, probably by having an
"active NO vote", this won't be feasable, and who wants their vote to
"default" to what you wanted LEAST! . It will probably take a major
citizens' petition and referendum to effectively demand this. Let's get
I wrote this three years ago but it touches on aspects of SDS that have not
been emphasized in present discussion. (I was a latecomer--I went to SDS
final convention in 1969 as a high school activist.)
I looked at Kirk Sale's book on SDS the other day to see how his analysis
compared to my own which angered at least one person because of my highly
critical remarks about SDS activists in the late 1960s-- who I charged had
destroyed the student movement by repudiating their original libertarian
vision and uncritically embracing Third World versions of "Marxist-Leninism"
and engaging in an increasingly undemocratic and authoritarian praxis. This
is also Kirkpatrick Sale's conclusion. Although he tries to avoid
editorializing, the last few chapters of the book document how SDS' s
"revolutionary" jargon and embrace of Maoist-Leninist-Stalinist theory led to
their estrangement from a larger student movement that was genuinely
discontented with American capitalism but did not resonate to the
"revolutionary" theories of SDS. Sale says on p555:" The shapers and movers
of SDS no longer cared particularly for students--or for a democratic
society. Something new was wanted, a new kind of organization[i.e.a "vanguard
party"] for the new revolutionary kind of job at hand...This, combined with
repression from above, the deflections from below, and the factionalism from
within, wrote the death sentence for SDS." Sale also quotes Carl
Oglesby(whom I cited).."The attempt to reduce the New Left's inchoate vision
to the Old Left's perfected remembrance produced a layer of bewilderment and
demoralization which no cop with his club or senator with his committee could
ever have induced." (Sale ends the book on a note of optimism, implying that
despite the demise of SDS it had succeeded in effecting a permanent
radicalization of university students in the US. That was written in 1974--it
seems sadly dated today.)
Because I made criticisms of the student left in the late 1960s (and of
the Black Panthers, who incidentally sent a spokesman to the SDS 1969
convention who denounced feminism and called for "pussy power" --I emphasize
that is a quote, not my words) I provoked at least several hostile and ad
hominem responses. One (I'll avoid names) person said it was obvious that I
"hated" the sixties and everything they stood for, an egregious
mischaracterization, particularly perplexing in light of the fact that I had
cited in support of my argument several radicals, including no less a
counter-cultural figure than Allen Ginsberg. (Someone is bound to respond
here that Ginsberg was a misogynist--that is completely irrelevant to my
point.) My argument was in defense of the original student activism and
vision, and in support of the counter-culture--not a Norman Podhoretz
neo-conservative attack on the 1960s as the debacle of Western civilization.
Because a reader disliked my argument--confirmed it turns out (at least re.
the student revolutionaries by leftist and historian Kirk Sale)--I was said
to have "an overly inflated opinion of my grasp" of the left in the 1960s,
and to be "pompous." (This statement was made incidentally by someone who
never met me.)I can only assume that to have strong convictions, and to be
critical of aspects of the theories and practices of the left is to risk ad
I noticed the same phenomena when I went to a colloquium on the 60s
sponsored by The Nation a few years ago. It seemed like a reunion
celebrating "the good ol days"--there was no attempt at anything resembling
critical analysis. A couple persons in the audience who attempted to push
things in this direction (not me, I did not speak) were treated hostilely.
But as Santayana said "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to
Sincerely, Seth Farber
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