It’s not likely that the New York Times will mark the 40th anniversary of the June 1969 Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] National Convention in Chicago by reprinting excerpts from the position paper of the Weatherman faction of SDS. So following are some excerpts from the first section of Part 8 of this historic position paper (that originally appeared in the June 18, 1969 issue of New Left Notes) which might interest U.S. anti-war activists in 2009—during the current U.S. historical era of “endless permanent war abroad and economic depression at home”:
"In terms of the above analysis, most young people in the US are part of the working class. Although not yet employed, young people whose parents sell their labor power for wages, and more important who themselves expect to do the same in the future—or go into the army or be unemployed—are undeniably members of the working class. Most kids are well aware of what class they are in, even though they may not be very scientific about it. So our analysis assumes from the beginning that youth struggles are, by and large, working-class struggles. But why the focus now on the struggles of working-class youth rather than on the working class as a whole?
“…At this stage, we see working-class youth as those most open to a revolutionary movement which sides with the struggles of Third World people; the following is an attempt to explain a strategic focus on youth for SDS.
“In general, young people have less stake in a society (no family,…etc.), are more open to new ideas (they have not been brainwashed for so long or so well), and are therefore more able and willing to move in a revolutionary direction. Specifically in America, young people have grown up experiencing the crises in imperialism…This crisis in imperialism affects all parts of the society. America has had to militarize to protect and expand its empire…Further, the huge defense expenditures—required for the defense of the empire and at the same time a way of making increasing profits for the defense industries—have gone hand in hand with the urban crisis around welfare, the hospitals, the schools, housing, air and water pollution. The State cannot provide the services it has been forced to assume responsibility for, and needs to increase taxes and to pay its growing debts while it cuts services…The private sector of the economy can’t provide jobs, particularly unskilled jobs. The expansion of the defense and education industries by the State since World War II is in part an attempt to pick up the slack, though the inability to provide decent wages and working conditions for `public’ jobs is more and more a problem.
“As imperialism struggles to hold together this decaying social fabric, it inevitably resorts to brute force and authoritarian ideology. People, especially young people, more and more find themselves in the iron grip of authoritarian institutions…The anti-authoritarianism which characterizes the youth rebellion turns into…a refusal to be socialized into American society. Kids used to try to beat the system from inside the army or from inside the schools; now they desert from the army…
“The crisis in imperialism has brought about a breakdown in bourgeois social forms, culture and ideology. The family falls apart, kids leave home, women begin to break out of traditional `female’ and `mother’ roles. There develops a `generation gap’ and a `youth problem.’ Our heroes are no longer struggling businessmen, and we also begin to reject the ideal career of the professional…We reject the elitist, technocratic bullshit that tells us only experts can rule…Chuck Berry, Elvis, the Temptations brought us closer to the `people’s culture’ of Black America. The racist response to the civil rights movement revealed the depth of racism in America, as well as the impossibility of real change through American institutions. And the war against Vietnam is not `the heroic war against the Nazis’; it’s the big lie, with napalm burning through everything we had heard this country stood for. Kids begin to ask questions: Where is the Free World?...
“The breakdown in bourgeois culture and concomitant anti-authoritarianism is fed by the crisis in imperialism, but also in turn feeds that crisis, exacerbates it so that people no longer merely want the plastic ‘50s restored, but glimpse an alternative (like inside the Columbia buildings) and begin to fight for it. We don’t want teachers to be more kindly cops…” (end of first section of part 8 excerpts)
(New Left Notes 6/18/69)
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8 years ago