[Marxism] 'Tenured radical' tries to revive professors group

Ruthless Critic of All that Exists ok.president+marxml at gmail.com
Thu Jul 17 16:32:19 MDT 2008

On Thu, Jul 17, 2008 at 6:26 PM, Ruthless Critic of All that Exists
<ok.president+marxml at gmail.com> wrote:

> Howard Zinn started a Marxist study circle when he was a shipyard
> worker at the age of eighteen. Socialism will win more adherents if
> more people helped start study groups among laborers, prisoners and
> factory workers than teach in universities (whether tenured or
> adjunct).

"She went another way.  In fact it was a way that a lot of us went,
seeing the limitations of the campus Left.  We sought out
working-class life, sooner or later hit the wall, and bounced back
rather bloodied: industries were shutting down, the labor bureaucracy
was unyielding, and older white (especially male) workers mainly
looked to retirement benefits.  Those who stayed were the ones who
found special ways to explain their tenacity to themselves.  One way
was the familiar (for the US Left) connection to the international
movement, in the case of this generation, first of all China and
Maoism.  Several thousands of the most determined new leftists, led in
most cases by the worst possible individuals, moved into factories and
blue-collar communities, determined to stick it out.  Hale did so in
the Boston area (actually, a popular site for former Madisonians), as
factory worker, welfare case worker, all-around activist, and so on.

"Then the moment passed, psychological depression set in (something
familiar to most of us, as we look back: the normal response was more
likely self-medication, beer, and dope, rather than therapy), and Hale
like others tried to figure out what in the world to do with her life
now.  As a creative type with talent, she had already helped form the
New Harmony Band, and I can vaguely remember hearing them in New
England.  She also married, had children, supported the Sandinistas
(actually spending some dangerous time in Nicaragua, as the Contras
tightened their American-made noose), went through some more rough
times, and emerged with her realized self in a society that hadn't
wished to listen but still may have learned some things along the way.

"The last chapters of this affecting book reveal the writer-activist
recreating, from a critical retrospect, the story of the personal
tension inherent in trying to be a revolutionary in a decidedly
non-revolutionary society. To seek to "serve the people" in deepest
self-sacrifice and to also care for the needs of oneself, a mate, and
children -- that is a dilemma not unique to Hale by any means.  But
her story of it is accented with not only candor but also frequently a
light touch, as when we find her amidst crystals and massage
treatments, participating but also viewing her own experience as if
from a detached outside.  This writing is a testament to personal
courage, to which her gendered reflection gives special emphasis.
This is, in other words, the opposite of  a self-serving memoir:
Kendall Hale has served all of us with her pursuit of life, love, and
radical purpose."

-- Paul Buhle, Review of Kendall Hale.  _Radical Passions: A Memoir of
Revolution and Healing_

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