Re: [sixties-l] response to Cox and Blankfort

From: Marty Jezer (
Date: Mon Jan 27 2003 - 20:59:55 EST

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    As we come closer to war, it's seems silly to argue about past wars.....but

    Re: Gitlin. I heard him on Terri Gross this week criticizing the anti-war movement for aligning itself or following A.N.S.W.E.R. His critique of A.N.S.W.E.R. was correct, I thought, but it was a discussion for the NATION or some other lefty journal; in as much as the mainstream media has not raised the issue of A.N.S.W.E.R's awful politics, Gitlin, to my mind, should not have made his critique on public radio. The best response to A.N.W.E.R. (as I have been writing in my weekly newspaper column since October) is to create a movement that more accurately reflects the politics of the participants. This is happening with United for Peace.

    As for the Humphrey business. The anti-war movement didn't have to endorse Humphrey or rejoin the Democratic Party; all we had to do was cut him a little slack the last weeks of the campaign and then him. Instead, we promoted the idea that a victory for Nixon would create a revolutionary situation that would benefit us. We were wrong in terms of the analysis that went into that position and in what ultimately happened. Sometimes it's better to vote for the lesser of two evils when the other guy represents true, rather than rhetorical, evil.

    Whatever the differences that Jeff, I and others share, we are, I believe, in solidarity in opposing the Bush Administration and the coming war.

    Marty Jezer
    Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words
    Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel
    The Dark Ages: Life in the US 1945-1960
    Rachel Carson (Women of Achievement Series)

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    ---- Original Message -----
      Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 12:59 AM
      Subject: Re: [sixties-l] response to Cox and Blankfort

    > Despite our different interpretations of what was wrong and right about the anti-war movement, I do not put Marty Jezer in the same category as I do Tod Gitlin who seems to be edging his way into the current anti-war movement, if for nothing else than to get more material for another book, to become an expert on the current movement, and to smear anyone who suggests this war might also be "for Israel" as an antisemite or a self-hating
    > Jew. Probably, all three.

      Regarding the position vis a vis Humphrey and the movement, Marty did not deal with the apparent truth of what I had said, i.e., that, if the movement, which had broken away totally from the Democrats, had demonstrated anything close to a mindset that would have had it, or a major segment of it, endorsing Humphrey, that mindset would have been recognized by the Democrats and LBJ would not have dropped out of the race. That's the point
      that has been ignored.

      Jeff Blankfort

    > Marty Jezer wrote:

    > I don't know where Carroll Cox is coming from but he certainly turned =
    > what I wrote -- and what I consistently write and say -- totally around. =
    > I've always stood for an inclusive movement -
    > Trotskyists, pacifists, Democrats, socialists, anarchists, even =
    > Republicans, as long as they are willing to accept the agreed upon =
    > discipline of any demonstration. (I do agree with Jeff Blankfort however =
    > that the sectarians in A.N.S.W.E.R. -- who deserve our thanks for =
    > organizing the first of the anti-Iraqi War demonstrations should not be =
    > allowed to control the planning of future demonstrations.)What's needed =
    > is a broader coalition that reflects the diverse politics of all the =
    > participants -- and that welcomes Jeff, Gitlin, and me.
    > In the controversy that Cox is writing about, I was initially responding =
    > to Blankfort's sentiment of excluding Gitlin from the movement for his =
    > "incorrect" politics. In that vein Blankfort wrote:
    > "I'm not surprised that Marty Jezer decides that the involvement of =
    > Gitlin or anyone else in the anti-war movement is not to be questioned. =
    > A couple of years back he joined Gitlin in criticizing the 60s anti-war =
    > movement for not having had the sense to endorse Humphrey for president =
    > in 1968, not being able to understand, apparently, that had the =
    > movement's consciousness been at that low level, Johnson would not have =
    > withdrawn his candidacy in the first place...."
    > I would thus like to (sarcastically) apologize to Blankfort riding an =
    > all-night bus from Vermont to Washington,D.C. to protest the war. =
    > Obviously, because I hold positions that aren't those of Blankfort's, I =
    > have no right to be in his anti-war movement.=
    > More to the point, Blankfort misrepresents my position on the 1968 =
    > election that I wrote in 1992, independent of Gitlin's position, in =
    > Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel, pp. 128,174-176.
    > By the summer of 68, I wrote, the anti-war movement had "won the battle =
    > within the Democratic Party." I then go on to describe how we (I was one =
    > of those who was in the streets of Chicago and who opposed Humphrey's =
    > candidacy) were so infatuated with our own revolutionary image that we =
    > got the political analysis of 1968 all wrong. We believed a Nixon =
    > victory would, as the cliche goes, "heighten the contradictions." In =
    > repressing the movement he would revolutionize the country. At the time =
    > it looked like that was possible, but in retrospect it wasn't even =
    > close. Nixon took power, escalated the war, and we were helpless to stop =
    > him. I continue: Humphrey as President would have had to end the war =
    > (whether he wanted to or not) because to continue the war would have =
    > totally destroyed the Democratic Party (and his chance for re-election. =
    > The equation, which we didn't fully understand) was that Nixon, to =
    > appeal to his base, had to move right, which he did. HHH, to secure his =
    > base, i.e., to survive as President, would have had to move left; the =
    > political reality of the time was that he had no choice. Further more, =
    > the cultural aspects of the movement, feminism, gay lib, and many other =
    > parts of it would have prospered under the greater tolerance of a =
    > Humphrey presidency. In opposition to Jeff's critique, my analysis was =
    > based on the strength of the movement, not its weaknesses. We =
    > misunderstood our strength. We had rallied the country against the war =
    > and not towards our agenda of cultural and political revolution. At a =
    > time when we were strongest, we upped the ante and our demands. Instead =
    > of settling for reforms that would have ended the war, we decided to go =
    > for revolution, which was a fantasy based on, among other things, taking =
    > too much LSD and/or reading too much Mao and Fanon.
    > Agree with that analysis or not, it's an attempt to think critically =
    > about that time. My take is that we blew it. That doesn't mean I'm =
    > trashing what I was part of. I just don't want to repeat those mistakes =
    > again.
    > In the current situation, there is widespread opposition towards going =
    > to war in Iraq from the right as well as the left. We need to guard =
    > against the revolutionary illusions and exclusionary politics that, in =
    > the past, did us in.
    > Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel -- which Martin Duberman called "by far =
    > the best account we have of Abbie Hoffman's remarkable life...deeply =
    > sympathetic and scrupulously detached -- a triumph of judicious =
    > empathy," and of which Anita Hoffman wrote "Here's the Abbie I knew and =
    > loved!" -- can be ordered from books stores or ordered direct from me =
    > for $15 postpaid.=20
    > Marty Jezer

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