[Marxism] Review of Public Enemy

Ethan Young ethanyoung at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 20 10:57:40 MST 2013

Ayers, and the defenders and apologists for Ayers's version of history like Alan Wieder, always frame the opposing view from the left in terms of pacifism or liberals' concern with respectability. They never deal with what was the majority view on the left  - both ex- and non-SDSers - during the years when Weather was a thing, roughly 1969 through 1977: that the entire project was a rejection of organizing, one which actively sought to undermine the movement, and accomplished nothing but to increase the heat on activists, black revolutionaries in particular. 

Now Wieder is comparing Ayers to Mandela. The documentary The Weather Underground implicitly compares the WU to King. Yet in theory as well as practice, the faction negated Mandela's strategy of mass organizing, broad coalitions, and interracialism against both apartheid and narrow nationalism. But even more historically relevant was Weather's complete rejection of everything MLK advocated: integration, nonviolence, mass demonstrations, organizing the poor against systemic poverty, and balancing criticism with openness to alliances.

Weather completely misread the importance of the emergence of the black power demand, racial consciousness and violent uprisings in ghettoes, and the decline of integration as a civil rights demand. They concocted a revolutionary scenario in which race was the defining category, complete with a nonexistent urban guerrilla army. Like SWP and PL, they saw a split away from King's work, and believed their responsibility was to embrace that split. Their results speak for themselves - small group street violence, followed by targeted bombings. That's it - that's the extent of their historical contribution. Every justification for every action boils down to "we failed but our hearts were pure," or the unprovable lie that they hastened the end of the war.ey

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