[Marxism] Review of Public Enemy

Ethan Young ethanyoung at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 20 16:56:36 MST 2013

Alex Wieder writes:

Bill Ayers doesn't need an apologist and I don't compare him to

Mandela.  What is historical fact is that the U.S. and British governments

labeled Madiba a terrorist.  As to the rest of what you write -- the

government suppression of blacks and anything left began long before WO

Now, if you mean he doesn't ask for or hire apologists - I'm sure you're right. But if you mean he has nothing to apologize for, you're dead wrong. We are not, as Alex and others have suggested, asking him to apologize to 'the country' or the warmakers, but to the movement he actively sabotaged with his antics as a leader of Weatherman.

It's not just about setting the record straight. It's about teaching the danger inherent in ignoring the damage Weather-type politics has done, and its tendency to resurface at critical moments.

Of course, some folks voluntarily perfume the Ayers/Weather legacy.

Quoth you: "I can’t help but think that the same people who define Bill Ayers as a terrorist would have given that label to Nelson Mandela and his less known comrades during the struggle against the apartheid regime."  If you are saying, 'Imperialists call Ayers a terrorist, but they called Mandela a terrorist,' how is that not comparing Ayers to Mandela?

You accuse Ayers's critics of being sour, bitter and ahistorical. Sour and bitter are completely appropriate. Ahistorical is the only description for Fugitive Days -  a complete sugar-coating of anti-movement, furiously anti-democratic putschism, and I offer the following as exhibits A, B and C:

"We in the Weatherman leadership had made a decision that SDS wasn’t radical enough, that it was an impediment to the building of a revolutionary movement in this country. We needed an underground guerilla army to begin the revolutionary armed struggle. So we disbanded the National and Regional Offices, dissolved the national organization, and set the chapters adrift. Many chapters kept organizing, in their own ways, against the war and racism; demoralized, others disbanded. 
We couldn’t have done the FBI’s work better for them had we been paid agents, which I know we weren’t. We were just stupid kids too in love with our ideas to realize they weren’t real. We believed they were real because we thought them. That’s the essence of the downside of idealism." - Mark Rudd, http://www.markrudd.com/?sds-and-weather/the-death-of-sds.html

There's no denying the antagonism to Weatherman within the radical left—not to mention the sheer horror with which liberals and conservatives view it. In some places—Detroit, for instance—unweatherized radicals have tried to form coalitions specifically aimed at destroying Weatherman. Some of the best New Left radicals believe that Weatherman is destroying (or has destroyed) the Movement. Movement spokesmen, such as the Guardian and Liberation News Service, are almost viciously anti-Weatherman; the underground press, for the most part, thinks Weatherman is positively insane. Such hostility is more than mere factionalism. It represents total rejection of Weatherman's revolutionary form. [...]
Real revolutionaries have a contempt for violence, not an adoration of it; it is used only as a last resort, as a response to specific oppression. As yet, most people do not comprehend the relationship of the police in America to the B-52s in Vietnam. A revolutionary party finds its moral authority in leading an oppressed people in retaliation against their intolerable oppressors: That's how the Viet Cong did it in Vietnam and how People's Democracy is doing it in Northern Ireland. To most people outside, Weatherman is a vanguard, floating free of a mass base. - Andrew Kopkind, "Going Down in Chicago," Hard Times, October 20, 1969

There's a lot of skepticism in some places about whether this action can come off, and that skepticism comes out of one thing, and that is that people have been listening to so-called "Movement people," and these "Movement people" have been telling them that it won't work, and that it's adventurist, that it's going to hurt people, that it's not right at this time, that we have to build a united front, or some other bullshit. And these Movement people, this kind of right-wing force, this weirdness that's moving around, it's all these old people who came into the Movement at a time when pacifism was important, at a time when there was a total consciousness of defeat, when the only reasons that we were in it were moral reasons, when there was no strategy for victory, for gaining power, so that the people who came into the Movement at that time have a certain kind of consciousness and belief about what is possible, and what we have to do is not listen to the Guardian, or what the Guardian thinks is possible, not listen to other "Movement" groups, like certain local Newsreels [radical film collectives], certain local NOCs [organizing collectives that emerged out of SDS's ERAP projects], and think that they must know what's right because they are "the Movement." 

We have to understand that if we're going to build our movement, if our movement is going to go forward and develop a different class basis and fight privilege, and fight on the side of the Vietnamese and the blacks, that a lot of these so-called Movement people are just going to have to get out of the way, drop out, and that's what should happen to them—that's what their class interest is. But we don't have to listen to what they have to say and get defeatist, we have to get out to more and more people. It's not so much that those people as individuals, as people, have to be smashed or destroyed or anything like that; it's that those ideas, those tendencies, those notions have to be totally discredited, smashed and destroyed. And in the process of doing that, some of those individuals will come over. They won't understand if we sit and talk about it, they'll only understand if we smash their ideas.
- Bill Ayers, "A Strategy to Win," New Left Notes, September 12, 1969

I hope you will respond to this. ey

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