Friday, March 9, 2007

Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories: Chap. 11: Ted Gold and Dave Gilbert: Roommates, 1967

Chapter 11: Ted Gold and Dave Gilbert: Roommates, 1967 (v)

My “Political Sociology” course was taught by Professor Silver, who didn’t impress me as much as he had impressed Ted. At first, I attended Silver’s class regularly because I saw that Linda was also taking the course. Josh was in graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin and Linda, for the first time since I had met her, was walking around campus alone. As a result of being in the same class, we ended up getting into a fairly long conversation one afternoon. She seemed to miss Josh, was easy to talk with and was very intellectual. But by the end of October, Linda had stopped going to Silver’s class and was living again with Josh out in Wisconsin. Once Linda had stopped attending Silver’s class, I started to cut most of his remaining lectures.

One intellectually positive result of Silver’s “Political Sociology” course was that it led me to write a term paper on “The Ideology of Anti-Communism: The Masterful Put-On.” In the course of researching this term paper, I read a book by Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy on the Cuban Revolution and The Free World Colossus by David Horowitz, which was a left-revisionist history of the Cold War that Horowitz wrote before he became a well-paid right-wing propagandist in the late 1980s. I also documented the corporate economic interests that seemed to determine U.S. foreign policy actions since the 1917 Russian Revolution.

My “Shakespeare I” course was taught by F.W. Dupee, who had been some kind of a leftist in the 1930s and had founded Partisan Review with William Philips and Philip Rahv. In 1967, however, Professor Dupee seemed uninterested in radical politics and just interested in literary questions. Because Dupee was somewhat famous in academic circles and lectured on Shakespeare in an entertaining way, about 75 students enrolled in his class.

On the first day of class, I noticed that Mark was sitting on the other side of the lecture hall. After class we said hello to each other and talked for a few minutes, as we walked towards the southern part of the campus. I can’t recall attending many more class sessions with Professor Dupee, and my impression is that Mark also ended up cutting class often. To pass the course, I wrote a paper on Richard III, which noted the similarity of his Machiavellianism to the Machiavellianism of U.S. political leaders, and included a reference to the recent imprisonment of LeRoi Jones [a/k/a Amiri Baraka] by a U.S. judge who disliked his poetry.

Columbia SDS’s first meeting of the 1967-68 school year took place in Harkness Theatre, the basement auditorium of Butler Library. We seemed to have retained much of our mass activist base from the previous spring. About double the number of students who attended the ICV’s first meeting of the previous school year attended this Columbia SDS meeting. Harkness Theatre was packed with students, including many students who were newcomers to the campus.

Teddy spoke for about 30 minutes about Columbia SDS’s general political goals and its local campus goals. I thought Teddy’s keynote speech was coherent and well-organized. But New York SDS Regional Office activist Halliwell whispered to Ted, after Teddy’s speech had been well-received by the Columbia SDS membership, that “his speech was too apolitical” and “Teddy may be in over his head as Columbia SDS chairman.” Halliwell—being more into National SDS politics than Columbia SDS politics—probably preferred Ted politically to Teddy because Ted was much more Marxist-oriented on an ideological level and didn’t throw in so many references to religious values, Reich and psychological behavior patterns as Teddy did in his political speeches.

I don’t remember much else about Columbia SDS’s first general assembly meeting of the school year, except that a mailing list was passed around to be signed. SDS members signed up for various campus organizing and issue committees. Then a red-haired woman in her late 20s or early 30s sat down in the back of the auditorium and acted out in an angry, politically-flipped out way during the period of general debate, for a few minutes. This “crazy” woman was dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, although she still used lipstick and makeup.