Oldies (Was For Louis Proyect)

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Wed Oct 28 10:39:51 PST 1998

[This bounced, because as the Panix mailer put it, "This may be hard to believe, but there was no "From:" field in this message I just received. I'm not gonna send it out, but you can...[.]" Chuck, check your <From:> field!]

Sender: cgrimes at tsoft.com Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit MIME-Version: 1.0 Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 14:15:49 -0800 (PST) To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com Subject: Oldies (Was For Louis Proyect)

Ken Lawrence to Louis P:

Tom Condit could tell some good stories about the fun we had as a minority libertarian socialist and Wobbly "tendency" (constitutionally recognized faction) in the old YPSL, when Norman Thomas was the SP elder, Mike Harrington was still a "youth," and all the red diaper babies were Shachtmanites!


Those names, particularly Mike Harrington--but I can't remember a thing he said or what he looked like--just the name. Wasn't he a law student at Boalt?

I know we are supposed to forget bourgois nostalgia, but so what? When I first got to UCB ('65-6) the YPSL's were having it out in public on the Sproul Hall steps with loudspeakers, haranging the crowds in high comic opera. I can still hear Betina Abtecker's(?) screeching voice--like broken glass.

But I gotta tell you, that kind of arcane factional in-fighting got boring fast--particularly when concrete issues and conditions were right in front of us--speaking as one of the nameless mass. Theoretical positions on the correct tactics to defeat capitalism seemed irrelevant when I had no money to get through school, no legal help to fight the draft, and no way out of any of it. So, in the first confrontations I was part of with the cops (inside the ASUC building) over the right to assemble and organize on campus, there was going to be no help from any organizations. You were on your own. In fact, in this mass meeting of a few hundred, that became the agenda--this was not formally sanctioned by any on-campus organization so there would be no legal help if you got arrested. Great. So it turned into fighting and running and no sit-in. That is pretty much how these things were transformed from peaceful sit-ins into the hit and run tactics that developed later.

It was a lesson in leadership, organization, solidarity, and the dialectic of violence--all take and no give--that was the 'take home message' as they say these days. So, for the younger members out there, the first order of business in the book of organization, is support your people.

Chuck Grimes

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