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 Part 12 & 13 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”:
“…Our task is not to avoid...repression; that can always be done by pulling back…Sometimes it is correct to do that as a tactical retreat, to survive to fight again.
“To defeat repression, however, is...to go on building the Movement…; in which case, defeated at one level, repression will escalate even more. To succeed in defending the Movement, and not just ourselves at its expense, we will have to successively meet and overcome these greater and greater levels of repression.
“…To survive and grow in the face of that will require more than a larger base of supporters; it will require the invincible strength of a mass base at a high level of active participation and consciousness, and can only come from mobilizing the self-conscious creativity, will and determination of the people.
“…Therefore, clearly the organization and active, conscious, participating mass base needed to survive repression are also the same needed for winning the revolution. The Revolutionary Youth Movement speaks to the need for this kind of active mass-based Movement by tying citywide motion back to community youth bases, because this brings us close enough to kids in their day-to-day lives to organize their `maximum active participation’ around different kinds of fights to push the `highest level of consciousness’ about imperialism…
“This will require a cadre organization,…self-reliance among the cadres, and an integrated relationship with the active mass-based Movement…
“How will we accomplish the building of this kind of organization? It is clear that we couldn’t somehow form such a party at this time, because the conditions for it do not exist in this country outside the Black nation. What are these conditions?
“One is that to have a unified…organization it is necessary to have a common revolutionary theory which explains, at least generally, the nature of our revolutionary tasks and how to accomplish them. It must be a set of ideas which have been tested and developed in the practice of resolving the important contradictions in our work.
“A second condition is the existence of revolutionary leadership tested in practice…
“Thirdly, and most important, there must be the same revolutionary mass base mentioned earlier, or (better) revolutionary mass movement. It is clear that without this there can’t be the practical experience to know whether or not a theory, or a leader, is any good at all…
“…There are two kinds of tasks for us.
“One is the organization of revolutionary collectives within the Movement. Our theory must come from practice, but it can’t be developed in isolation. Only a collective pooling of our experiences can develop a thorough understanding of the complex conditions in this country. In the same way, only our collective efforts toward a common plan can adequately test the ideas we develop…Just as a collective is necessary to sum up experiences and apply them locally, equally the collective interrelationship of groups all over the country is necessary to get an accurate view of the whole movement and to apply that in the whole country…
“The most important task for us toward making the revolution, and the work our collectives should engage in, is the creation of a mass revolutionary movement…A revolutionary mass movement is different from the traditional revisionist mass base of `sympathizers.’…It is a movement diametrically opposed to the elitist idea that only leaders are smart enough or interested enough to accept full revolutionary conclusions. It is a movement built on the basis of faith in the masses of people.
“The task of collectives is to create this kind of movement…This will be done at this stage principally among youth, through implementing the Revolutionary Youth Movement strategy discussed in this paper. It is practice at this, and not political `teachings’ in the abstract, which will determine the relevance of the political collectives which are formed.
“The strategy of the RYM for developing an active mass base, tying the citywide fights to community and citywide…movement,…fits with the world strategy for winning the revolution…which will dismember and dispose of US imperialism…” (end of excerpts from Parts 12 & 13).
(New Left Notes 6/18/69)
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