[Marxism] Fwd: Peter Camejo archive. Liberalism, ultraleftism or mass action, June 14, 1970

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 29 19:31:32 MDT 2017

Then you started hearing them all talk about imminent fascism. The 
underground papers discovered that there were concentration camp sites 
in this country, and that some of them were being cleaned up and gotten 
ready. They would say to each other, “See you next year in the 
concentration camps.” This was a very common attitude, because they 
couldn’t see any force around that was protecting their civil liberties.

Then what they began to develop was the thesis that civil liberties, 
elections, courts, all bourgeois democratic forms, are a gigantic 
put-on, a fantastic manipulation. That it is all a ruling class trick. 
So, these people concluded that the elections and civil liberties are 
unreal, and the people who run the country could call them off tomorrow. 
Elections and civil liberties, they said, “have nothing to do with reality”.

Then came the instant fascism theory. We are about to have fascism any 
moment now. But this is a very confusing theory. Somehow the rallies and 
demonstrations continue year after year. They don’t put us in the 
concentration camps.

This theory is actually a mixture of deep cynicism, thinking that the 
ruling class is all-powerful, but it always is combined with a last hope 
that maybe they aren’t completely bad. Maybe there is still someone who 
will listen.

Sometimes a liberal becomes frustrated not getting the ear of the ruling 
class, and he concludes that he’ has been using the wrong tactics. So he 
adopts a lot of radical rhetoric. He says this ruling class is 
apparently so thickheaded that what we’ve got to do is really let loose 
a temper tantrum to get its attention. The politicians won’t listen to 
peaceful things, but if we go out and break windows then Kennedy will 
say, “Oh, I guess there is a problem in this society. I didn’t realize 
it when they were just demonstrating peacefully. I thought everything 
was OK because they were in the system, but now they’re going outside 
the system, they’re breaking windows, so we’ve got to hold back.”

These liberal-ultraleftists think that’s what moves the ruling class. 
Actually they come close to a correct theory when they say that if 
people start leaving the system the ruling class will respond. But they 
don’t believe that the masses can be won. They think it is enough for 
them to leave the system themselves, small groups of people carrying out 
direct confrontations.

For example, let me quote a thing from the New York Times that 
illustrates how this type of idea develops. A girl from Kent, after the 
killings there, was asked what she thought could be done about Cambodia 
and what she thought about the use of violence. This was a person who is 
just radicalizing, a liberal, just beginning to oppose the war.

She says, “I’m really dead set against violence. That’s also a copout. 
But it’s the only way to get the government’s attention. What you’re 
doing is drawing their attention to you, by using the same methods they 
use. I’m really against that. It’s horrible that the only way you can 
get people to listen is to have four kids killed. There was really no 
blow-up over Cambodia until four kids were killed. You can have all the 
peace marches that were peaceful and quiet, and everyone would pat you 
on the back and say ‘good little kids’, but nobody would do anything.”

Now, what’s in her mind? She doesn’t see any independent, mass force 
that’s standing in the way of the ruling class. She’s looking at the 
ruling class and asking, “Are we affecting them or not? Are they being 
responsive?” And if not, maybe the way to get them to pay attention is 
to go out and break some windows and use violence. It’s a very natural 
conclusion when you don’t understand that there’s a class struggle, a 
class relationship of forces.

Having given up on the masses, the ultraleft super-revolutionaries are 
really trying to influence the ruling class. A classical example of this 
unity between the liberal and the ultraleft approach was the Chicago 
demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Party convention. The leaders of 
the demonstration came from the National Mobilization Committee. They 
were revolutionary. Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Dave Dellinger and Rennie 
Davis were on hand, and their rhetoric was as radical as you can get.

But while the “militant” demonstrations were in process, Tom Hayden and 
Rennie Davis were apparently closeted with McCarthy’s supporters working 
out an agreement to help McCarthy.

According to an article in the Jan. 22, 1970 Washington Post, “[Sam] 
Brown [Vietnam Moratorium Coordinator] said [Tom] Hayden suggested … 
that if McCarthy appeared to have a good chance by Monday or Tuesday — 
and if that chance might be hampered by public activity [demonstrations] 
— then we could meet to decide whether to go ahead with the public 
activity.” Hayden has never denied this account.

Another example of this type of ultraleftism was a full-page ad which 
appeared in the New York Times on June 7. It was placed by the New Mobe 
and signed by guess who? Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, et al. This ad 
announces in big letters at the top of the page: “It’s 11:59.” 11:59 to 
what? It’s 11:59 to 1984. Fascism is due in one minute.

This is another thing that these ultraleft-upside-down-liberals have: 
the panic button. Since they don’t see any countervailing force, they 
think at any moment the whole country could just go BANG! At any moment 
the ruling class can make a move to the right, and they don’t see any 
way to stop it, so they throw in the towel, they just panic. The ad 
says: “If you’re reading this — don’t kid yourself any longer. Big 
Brother is making his list. And you’re on it. Can we stop 1984? It’s 
11:59 p.m. now. The clock is ticking loudly. What in hell are we going 
to do about it?”

Well, what solution do these ultralefts have? What do they project 
should be done to stop imminent fascism? In this ad they have a 
five-point program.


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