[Marxism] Seymour/Ayers - rewriting history?

Ethan Young ethanyoung at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 5 23:52:20 MST 2008


John, you write:
>The SDS did NOT oppose the Chicago August 1968 protests at the Democratic Party Convention.
Look at who were SDS members among the Chicago 8 Defendants - and see that SDS put out posters around that protest. A number of SDSers may have politically opposed the National Mobilization Committee and some may have opposed YIP (Yippie) - but I do not remeber them urging their members to not protest the war and the other demands raised by SCLC the Black Panther PArty and other groups who were there to protest?

Mike Klonsky, then Natl Secretary, wrote a prominent piece 
in New Left Notes titled "Don't Take Your Guns to Town'
[after a Johnny Cash song] discouraging participation in 
the convention protest.

The Chicago 8 included several ex-SDSers but they did not 
represent SDS--and in fact they could not, even if they had 
been current members. Of course many SDSers did go, 
including Bill Ayers, who found a model for practice in the 
experience of street fighting.

>I also do not agree what was stated that PL was anti-China (meaning against the Chinese CP leadership).

Right. I wrote '...while embracing the NLF, the Panthers, and Cuba 
as well as China, unlike PL.' That is, RYM II and PL supported 
China; but RYM II supported the others as well, unlike PL. [As did 
the Weather folks.] Sorry if my language was confusing.

>I also do not agree with what you wrote about the differences of RYM I and RYM II splitting. It is not accurate in my opinion. 

Unfortunately while there are now perhaps a dozen books on Weatherman,
very little documentation exists on RYM II. IMO, the latter group was
much less sexy and its old leaders have kept a low profile, unlike
Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. RYM II also louses up the argument 
that after SDS fell apart, student radicalism degenerated into 
mindless violence. RYM II split from Weather over the issue of 
working class organizing and the demands -- particularly those
not explicitly anti-imperialist -- such work requires. If you can find
the Weather-controlled New Left Notes/The Fire Next Time from 1969, the 
polemic between RYM II on Weather over the Oct. 69 national action made
waves in the movement at the time.

>And what source can you give me about RYM II having a demonstration of a thousand people at a multi issue march at that period of time? The RYM I demonstration in August 1969 on the First Anniversary of the Chicago 1968 Convention protests had less than a thousand and RYM II was not larger then in membership than RYM I.

Interesting, huh? Weatherman was bigger than RYM II, yet RYM II brought
more people to Chicago for their concurrent action. How could that be?

I grew up in Chicago and was active there in 1969, with friends in both 
RYMs, though at the time I identified more with Weather. A useful Wikipedia 
article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Days_of_Rage] cites 3 books after noting:

'Supporters of the Revolutionary Youth Movement II (RYM II), led by 
Klonsky and Noel Ignatin, held peaceful rallies of several hundred people 
in front of the federal courthouse, an International Harvester factory, 
and Cook County Hospital. The largest event of the Days of Rage occurred 
on Friday, October 9, when RYM II led a an interracial march of 2,000 
people through a Spanish-speaking part of Chicago. At the October 9 
RYM II rally at the federal courthouse Black Panther leader Fred Hampton 
disassociated his group from Weatherman, saying, "We do not support 
people who are anarchistic, opportunistic, adventuristic, and Custeristic."'
That jibes with my recollection. I wish I owned more histories,
especially Kirk Sale's SDS and Ron Jacobs's The Way the Wind Blew.

>Finally RYM II did not dissolve into local groups. The alrgest faction as I had wrote yesterday in my email - that you may want to more carefully read - said that the majority of RYM II (after Klonsky and what became the OL left) would become the RCP which still exists today and is NOT a local group!

I read it. In 1969 the Revolutionary Union was a local collective in
the SF Bay Area that joined SDS that year specifically to help 
fight their common factional enemy, PL. They joined forces with RYM II
against Weather but maintained a separate organization when RYM II
tried [unsuccessfully] to keep a national group together after the 
October [not August] 69 actions. When RYM II dissolved in 1970 the RU 
was still just beginning to do national outreach. All the surviving 
groups were local. See Elbaum's Revolution in the Air.

 




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