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 more excerpts from 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”:
“The contradictions of decaying imperialism fall hardest on youth in four distinct areas—the schools, jobs,…the army, and the…courts. (A) In jail-like schools, kids are fed a mish-mash of racist, male chauvinist, anti-working class…lies while being channeled into job and career paths set up according to the priorities of monopoly capital. At the same time, the State is becoming increasingly incapable of providing enough money to keep the schools going at all. (B) Youth unemployment is three times average unemployment. As more jobs are threatened by automation or the collapse of specific industries, unions act to secure jobs for those already employed. New people in the labor market can’t find jobs, job stability is undermined (also because of increasing speed-up and more intolerable safety conditions) and people are less and less going to work in the same shop for 40 years. And, of course, when they do find jobs, young people get the worst ones and have the least seniority. (C) There are…soldiers under thirty who are…forced to police the world, kill and be killed in wars of imperialist domination. And (D) as a `youth problem’ develops out of this, the…courts enforce curfews, set up pot busts, keep people off the streets, and repress any youth motion whatsoever.
“In all of this, it is not that life in America is toughest for youth or that they are the most oppressed. Rather, it is that young people are hurt directly—and severely—by imperialism. And, in being less tightly tied to the system, they are more `pushed’ to join the black liberation struggle against US imperialism. Among young people there is less of a material base for racism—they have no seniority, have not spent 20 years securing a skilled job (the white monopoly of which is increasingly challenged by the black liberation movement), and aren’t just about to pay off a 25-year mortgage on a house…
“While these contradictions of imperialism fall hard on all youth, they fall hardest on the youth of the most oppressed (least privileged) sections of the working class. Clearly these youth have the greatest material base for struggle. They are the ones who most often…get the worst jobs if they get any, who are most abused by the various institutions of social control, from the army to decaying schools, to the…courts….They are the people whom we can reach who at this stage are most ready to engage in militant revolutionary struggle.
“The point of the revolutionary youth movement strategy is to move from a predominant student elite base to more oppressed (less privileged) working-class youth as a way of deepening and expanding the revolutionary youth movement…This is part of a strategy to reach the entire working class to engage in struggle against imperialism; moving from more privileged sections of white working-class youth to more oppressed sections to the entire working class as a whole, including importantly what has classically been called the industrial proletariat…
“The above arguments make it clear that it is both important and possible to reach young people wherever they are—not only in the shops, but also in the schools, in the army and in the streets—so as to recruit them to fight on the side of the oppressed peoples of the world…” (end of second section of part 8 excerpts)
(New Left Notes 6/18/69)
James and the Twenty-Seven Bicycles
8 years ago