[Marxism] Fred Hampton

Tom Cod tcod at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 6 20:13:53 MST 2009

Louis: I took a week off from work to attend this convention and wanted to hear what 
people in my own organization had to say, not a guest. I think the only 
people around this time who were into soaking up every word from a 
Panther for hours on end were SDS'ers. I preferred Marxism myself.
Response: That's exactly what I'm talking about and I regret you still feel this way.  It seems that you still adhere to this whole sectarian world view that you excoriate us to break from, your comment about SDS speaks volumes in that regard.  As a 15 year old, I really didn't give a fuck about "our organization" except to the extent that it reflected the real mass movement in the streets which SDS and the Panthers embodied.  Thus I found the attitude and views you're conveying-those of the leadership, then and later on, confusing and incredibly demoralizing, I mean I used to have a YSA Che poster on my wall at that time, it was that that attracted me to the YSA in the first place, but then again listening to speakers drone on about how many subscriptions we sold in Binghamton or Hayward trumps Che, Malcolm or the Black Panthers.  That's the mentality of groups like the Worker League or the Socialist Labor Party that counterpose themselves to the real movement which is never clean and acceptable to polite society or some orthodoxy and that's what they did with Hampton ratchet up the volume in response.  The reality of life in the ghetto was something a world away from life among college students and cult sectarians, ostensible millenialists who could in such glib and smug fashion dismiss the Black Panthers and their historical role, but then again that's because at bottom the YSA never rose above being a sect whose ranks were filled by naive youth whose perceived conservatism was pandered to by the leadership. 
Yes, we did some good stuff back then in terms of mass demos, but to counterpose that, instead of juxtaposing it, to the rest of the movement is wrong and objectively gives a *left cover* to attacks by the right wing and the government.  Thus instead of walking away from the protests in Chicago in summer of 1968 and then distancing itself from and badmouthing the Chicago 8 like the leaders did, they should have closed ranks with them and then we could have had the Chicago 10 with Halstead and Camejo right in the thick of it.  The other thing was that a leader of the Chicago SWP in this period was FBI and Chicago police informant Ed Heisler.  I mean this was 1968, revolution was everywhere, and we're worrying about "our organization"?  What is wrong with that picture?  That's what I liked about the Workers World convention I went to in the mid-70s: its fundamentally agitational and movement oriented character.  The SWP talked a lot about united front, but except for New Mobe in 1969 they were into the united front of themselves and their periphery.

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