[Marxism] Re: SDS

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Sun Jan 15 02:20:29 MST 2006

Brian is right that SDS per se had little organised presence in
Berkeley, but general SDS-type politics were certainly a force. By the
late sixties the representative group was the Radical Student Alliance.
Around the time I joined the I.S. (Sept 1969) it was debating whether to
be involved in RSA; I went to at least one RSA meeting but anyway we
decided to try to be a pole of attraction on our own. At the same time,
nationally the I.S. did have some involvement in SDS and picked up
entire branches -- which it managed to lose later in a split. Isn't life
on the left maddening.

The real issue was not so much what organisational vehicle you used or
joined, but how the "old left" engaged the "new left" politically. The
I.S. at Berkeley tried to do this a bit more than the SWP, but our
somewhat stalinophobic style made it hard relating to semi-Maoists
bearing Viet Cong flags. The SWP was not attractive to them because it
placed such heavy emphasis on peaceful, law-abiding actions at a time
when the SDS types were heavily into confrontation. Had the SWP got
involved in SDS, I doubt if things would have worked out very
differently - which I think means I'm in broad agreement with Brian.
However I had no experience of the movement anywhere but the West Coast.

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