[Marxism] Will Miller

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 31 19:08:23 MST 2005

(Will Miller has been a subscriber to the Marxism list since 1998.)

Hi Louis,
Ron Jacobs here.Will Miller died today.Jay Moore and I were wondering if 
you could post the following to obits/tirbutes to the list?

  For our friend and comrade, Will Miller

Willard M. "Will" Miller

Willard M. "Will" Miller, Professor of Philosophy at the University of 
Vermont in Burlington and a revolutionary who dedicated his life to the 
struggle for social justice, passed away on Thursday, March 31 at 11:01am 
due to complications from cancer. Will tirelessly fought for academic and 
political freedom, rights of the poor, working class and all inhabitants of 
the earth who suffer under economic inequities and prejudices.

Will was born in Chicago on August 29, 1940. He was the first child of Lois 
Nadine Henderson and Willard Marshall Miller. After attending Chicago 
public schools he joined the U. S. Army Security Agency on his 17th 
birthday. He worked as a signal analyst with a Top Secret/Code Word 
Security Clearance to carry out electronic surveillance missions directed 
at the Soviet, East German and Czechoslovakian forces in Eastern Europe 
from 1958-1961. This period provided him the significant beginnings of a 
political education that was not in the foreign policy curriculum in the 
schools at home. He entered the University of Illinois at Navy Pier based 
on high school and 1st year of college GED’s, only to be recalled on the 
first day of classes to active duty for the Berlin Wall Crisis.

After this second tour of duty he returned to the University of Illinois 
for a BA in Philosophy 1966, MA in Philosophy 1968 and a PhD. In Philosophy 
in 1969. During those years he worked in housing integration in 
Champaign-Urbana. He worked on the Ban the Bomb leading to cooptation by 
the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Will worked with Veterans and students 
(including the Students for a Democratic Society-SDS) and community groups 
against the Vietnam War. He subsequently did draft counseling and military 

Will joined the Philosophy Department of the University of Vermont in the 
Fall of1969 as an Assistant Professor­a rank he held for 36 years as the 
sole survivor of a political purge of nearly the entire department (nine 
faculty) from 1974 to 1979. Without tenure he too would have been fired.

In these 36 years he was faculty advisor to many of the radical student 
organizations at UVM including the Radical Student Union, Union of 
Concerned Students, The Gadfly alternative student newspaper, and SPARC 
(Student Political Awareness and Responsibility Collective).

He taught courses on Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Marxism, the Philosophy 
of Nature, Utopianism, Seminars on Herbert Marcuse, Human Nature and the 
classic period in American philosophy.

Will continued his activism until his death, and was actively involved with 
Veterans for Peace, the Network Opposed to Depleted Uranium Weapons (NO DU 
Weapons) and was a board member of Global Justice Ecology Project.

An informative website concerning Will Miller's professional and political 
advocacies has been created at www.WillMiller.org, where tributes of his 
friends and colleagues can be read. Reading many of them before he became 
too ill to do so, Will commented that it was a great experience to discover 
that so much of his work was highly valued by some of the most highly 
esteemed people in his life.

A memorial service for Will is planned for Sunday, April 24 at 2pm at the 
Unitarian Universalist Church in Burlington.

Donations may be made to The Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series, 
which has been established to sponsor annual lectures in Burlington on 
subjects close to Will Miller's heart. Checks should be made payable to Ann 
Lipsitt (write WMSJLF in the memo) and mailed to Ann Lipsitt, 10 Machia 
Hill Rd., Westford, VT 05494.

He is survived by his life-partner and wife, Ann Duchin Lipsitt of Westford 
and his sister Barbara Knight of Sebastapol, California.


Death of a RevolutionaryVermont Loses an Honest Man, by Ron Jacobs

A very good friend and an inspiration to thousands of activists, radicals, 
revolutionaries and thinkers, died today. He was a teacher and a student, 
in life, in the classroom and in the streets. He was anathema to those who 
disagreed with him and had very little tolerance for bigotry and injustice 
or the people who perpetrate such sores on the flesh of humanity. He was an 
encyclopedia of history, thought, and living off the land. I am not alone 
when I say that he was a brother. My heart goes out to those who were 
closest to him. My mind wonders how the radical community in Vermont and 
anywhere else he touched down will fill the huge hole he has left in our 
collective histories.

Wills hero was John Brown. Like Brown, Wills hair was long and his beard 
was often unkempt. Also like Brown, Will believed in the propaganda of the 
deed. An example that comes quickly to my mind occurred soon after Bill 
Clinton and his band of killers launched the aerial bombardment of 
Yugoslavia and Kosovo in the spring of 1999. Will, other activists, and I 
spent many hours tabling in front of the University of Vermont (UVM) 
library distributing literature against the bombing and arguing with 
so-called leftists who supported that humanitarian assault. It wasn't long 
before we decided that something of a more agitative matter needed to be 
done. We were joined in our opinion by Dave Dellinger, folksinger Jim Page 
(who happened to be on tour in Vermont), activists Orin Langelle and Anne 
Peterman, Jay Moore and many others. Given that all of Vermonts 
Congressional delegation supported the killing, we decided to stage 
protests at each of their offices and stage a sit-in at the last one on our 
tour. That office happened to be the office of Bernie Sanders. After making 
it clear to the folks working in Bernie's office that we fully intended to 
stay until they threw us out, Will fumbled with his wife's cell phone 
(something new to us older folks back then) and called the local media. 
They showed up soon afterwards and recorded our thoughts and the arrests 
that followed the offices closing. There were those on the Left who didn't 
understand why we chose Bernies office, but the reasons became even clearer 
when Bernie told Will and fellow radical Jay Moore that they should just 
leave the room if they didnt agree with what Bernie was saying during a 
town meeting on the war. Our job wasnt to support Bernie no matter what; it 
was to point out the imperialist nature of the war and the hypocrisy of the 
humanitarian warmongers. Our propaganda of the deed

I only met Will around ten years ago when I moved to Vermont. I had heard 
of him before, however. His name came up in conversations on the West Coast 
whenever there were student protests at the University of Vermont. Usually 
it was a former student of Wills who knew of him. Wills students are like 
the followers of Jerry Garcia. You can find them in every part of the 
planet and in almost every profession, although I doubt that you will find 
too many in the war industry or the military (Will would probably feel that 
he failed those folks if he knew). It wasn't just the subject matter of 
Wills courses that inspired his students; it was his presentation, the 
non-judgmental seminars that discussed those ideas, and it was Will 
himself. He didn't demand respect, he commanded it. What I mean by that is 
that Will didn't want respect just because he was the teacher, he hoped to 
gain your respect because he helped you teach yourself. He was the 
remaining radical philosopher in a philosophy department that had been 
purged in 1970 after Michael Parenti, Will, and a few others began to do 
more than just teach philosophical ideas. They put those ideas to use, 
challenging the war in Vietnam, the racism of the US, and the very nature 
of the university. Although Will wasn't purged, he rarely got a raise or a 
sabbatical until a friendlier chair took over the department in the late 1990s.

A few years ago, the faculty at UVM began a successful drive to unionize. 
Will was an essential part of that campaign, just as he had been in every 
union campaign at the university since his hiring. Only four or five years 
before, he and I were celebrating the victory in a staff union drive at UVM 
that heralded in the second union in the university's history. Wills 
presence, organizing ability and fervor, and his encyclopedic historical 
knowledge were instrumental in the success of this campaign that provided a 
voice to the most exploited segment of UVMs workforce.

Will is going to be sorely missed in Vermont. However, when I go about my 
daily life, working, writing, speaking, organizing, enjoying a beer or 
something sweeter, I'm going to do so with Wills spirit in my soul. Ill 
have a smile on my face, a chuckle in my walk, and a revolutionary's love 
in my heart.

Will Miller, live like him!!!

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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