[Marxism] THE DESTROYERS RIDES [AND BURNS] ONCE AGAIN
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 29 14:44:02 MDT 2005
NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: [10/29/05]
"The Destroyers" involved virulent racist prejudice and violence in the
context of an extremely extensive and intensive Southwestern forest fire. "
I believe in "making myself useful" and, to that end [as well as others], I
have been doing a good deal of writing. Much of that writing has appeared
on our now massive website, Lair of Hunterbear [which draws a few
interesting and positive comments each day], www.hunterbear.org . Not
especially theoretical [to put it mildly indeed], I tend to write mostly
from an experiential perspective and thus much of my stuff is
autobiographical. These writings of mine, most published over half a
century -- including much into the present -- may someday be the essential
components of a future book work of mine. One of the most important and
well received pieces I've ever written has been the short story, THE
DESTROYERS, which appeared originally in the Left literary journal,
MAINSTREAM, in May, 1960 when I had just finished my M.A. in Sociology at
Arizona State University. [I should add that the first such degree in Soc at
ASU was the one awarded to me.] I have always been pleased that Fidel
Castro's excellent essay, "In Praise of Learning," appeared in that
particular issue of MAINSTREAM.
THE DESTROYERS, from the outset, was well received -- and reprinted in
several parts of the Earth in various journals. The last occasion, however,
[at least as far as I know], was in 1988. Much later, slightly more than
three years ago, a daughter-in-law of mine [Pete's good spouse, Dawn],
graciously and accurately typed the story for inclusion on my website, both
Josie [my youngest daughter] and I proof-read it, and it's been available
via Lair of Hunterbear ever since.
And then, a couple of months ago, Joe Sims, editor of the Marxist journal,
Political Affairs, asked to publish it in PA. I was happy to oblige -- and
also corresponded with Joel Wendland, the magazine's managing editor. And
THE DESTROYERS has now appeared in the November/December 2005 print and web
editions of that publication. You can see it on the web at
creative and nicely done illustration is a large knife held by a malevolent
hand -- and background depictions of burning pine trees. [I do like that
The history of THE DESTROYERS is fascinating. Here is some of it:
The following material is excerpted from my large website:
2002: My prize winning short story -- "The Destroyers" -- has now for the
very first time appeared on the Net via this website.
SPECIAL UPDATE [10/29/05]: "The Destroyers" has just been reprinted in the
Marxist journal, POLITICAL AFFAIRS, November/December 2005! It is on both
the PA website and in the regular print journal. See it at
As long as I can remember, I've been writing things -- mostly agitational
stuff focused directly on issues and radical organizing. [ I started doing
"man's work" -- hard labor stuff -- as soon as I entered my 'teens and my
writing has always reflected this in one way or another.] While most of this
writing has been articles, essays, editorials, leaflets and related
weapons -- and a big book, Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of
Struggle and Schism (1979 and 1987) -- there've been a few short stories.
One, "Last of the Wild Ones" -- based on my trapping experiences in the
super-rugged canyon country of Northern Arizona, was published as the lead
fictional piece [November 1957] in the huge circulation "man's magazine,"
But another story of mine, "The Destroyers," published initially in
Mainstream in 1960, won ever-broadening national and international renown.
It was reprinted abroad in a variety of journals -- including those of the
Russian and the Ukranian writers' unions. And it was also picked by Martha
Foley and David Burnett as one of the very best short stories published in
the United States in 1960 and included in their very special "Roll of
Honor" [about fifty stories]: Martha Foley and David Burnett, The Best
American Short Stories, 1961 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
[Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1961.]
"The Destroyers" involved virulent racist prejudice and violence in the
context of an extremely extensive and intensive Southwestern forest fire.
North Country -- an excellent annual literary magazine published at the
University of North Dakota -- had, among its editors in 1988, one of my
sons, John, then completing his M.A. in English. In addition to a fine
story by him and very good work by others, that edition included "The
Destroyers." [Kass Fleisher, a good friend then and now, had a fine story
in that issue.]
The following -- in quotes -- is introductory material which I provided for
that issuance of my story:
" "The Destroyers" came directly out of a situation which I can still see
as vividly as if it occurred last summer -- not June, 1950. At that long
ago point, I fought my first forest fire -- the A-1 Mountain Burn -- with
axe and shovel, just west of Flagstaff, Arizona. As that inferno wound
down, another exploded on the slopes of the San Francisco Mountains, north
of Flagstaff and only a few miles from Highway 89 which carries one up
through the western Navajo country and into Mormon Utah. On that fire, I
was put to work in camp where all the basic events depicted in "The
Destroyers" transpired -- short of the final, lethal conclusion. And that
tragedy came hideously close to reality.
Years later, I wrote the story; and submitted it to Harper's Magazine in
October, 1959, eventually receiving the longest letter of rejection I'd ever
gotten: a full-page from its chief editor, vigorously commending "The
Destroyers," but indicating "sadly" that "it isn't the Harper's kind of
story." [Within a few months, the civil rights sit-ins were to occur in the
upper South.] I next sent it to Mainstream, a small, financially-broke and
perennially witch-hunted Left-wing literary magazine, based in New York
[descendant of the old and New Masses] whose always gracious and gently
sharp editor, Charles Humboldt, snapped it up immediately. His persuasive
powers also commissioned me to do an extensive article on the on-going
Western copper strike, and its chief leader -- International Union of Mine,
Mill and Smelter Workers [Mine-Mill] -- with which I was closely identified.
"The Destroyers" appeared in May, 1960 [and the Mine-Mill article the
following October], all of this, it turned out, faithfully recorded by the
FBI which had, even by 1960, built a large file on me. And the FBI
certainly pounced on the fact that the Russian Writers Union translated and
reprinted my story in its journal in 1961. I'm not sure if J. Edgar Hoover
and his bird-dogs were ever aware that "The Destroyers" [in Mainstream] was
picked as one of the 50 best American short stories of the year by Martha
Foley in her 1961 Yearbook of the American Short Story. Anyway, the two
dozen sheets relating to Mainstream contained in the 3,000 or so pages of
my FBI file -- secured under the Freedom of Information Act -- carry no
mention of that honor. By that time, I was off to do battle with the
destroyers in blood-dimmed Mississippi and far beyond."
I should add that, in addition to the 3,000 or so pages that I have in my
possession, my total FBI file contains several hundred pages that the FBI
refuses to give me on various "security" grounds.
In 1998, the files of the old Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission --
the state secret police agency -- were finally opened. And in 1999, I
received several hundred Sovereignty Commission pages relating to me.
Among them were numerous documents concerning Mainstream and much evidence
that at least two other agencies -- in addition to the FBI and the
Commission -- had been quite interested in my Mainstream ties: the U.S.
Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the Louisiana State Un-American
Charles Humboldt (1910-1964) was an excellent editor in every respect and a
damn fine human being. During his tenure as Editor of Mainstream [ service
which, very regrettably, ended abruptly in late 1960], this top-flight
radical literary journal consistently secured very high calibre work and
courageously pursued a vigorous and ecumenically Left focus.
Humboldt was a member of the Communist Party USA and his broadly Left
focus -- with a heavy emphasis on genuinely excellent social justice
creativity -- drew to Mainstream a number of splendid radical writers and
poets and artists. A number were of the non-Communist Left. Interestingly,
it was Fred Thompson, veteran IWW editor and key mentor of mine, who
initially brought Mainstream to my attention. Fred recognized and respected
what Charles Humboldt was attempting -- and suggested that I, at some point,
might want to submit some of my radical fiction to the journal.
And, believe me, I have always been tremendously proud that I did. I'm
delighted that THE DESTROYERS lives on.
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
I am honored -- humbled -- by the 2005 Elder Recognition Award of Wordcraft
Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. This particular, rarely issued
honor is one of several awards voted by the Caucus [board] of this
organization of writers, storytellers, film makers, and journalists.
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and
mysterious and remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
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