Sunday, December 10, 2006

my kind of town?

Today I was taking the El home from church, as I always do. I was reading a book that I had picked up that afternoon at the Harold Washington public library, as I often do.

Today's book was "The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground." (Ron Jacobs, 1997, Verso Books.) It's about (you guessed it) the Weather Underground, a radical offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society active in the late 60's, early 70's, notable for being more openly revolutionary and violent than a lot of the other anti-war, anti-imperial, anti-racist organizations of the day. It wanted to be an appropriate venue in which white people/kids could be in solidarity with the Black Panthers.

Anyway, I'm reading about the movement, and Jacobs is talking about the October 1969 "Days of Rage" actions, in which hundreds and hundreds of Weather-types brawled with police officers. In the Chicago Loop. AS my train enters the Chicago Loop.

I read a little further and learned that the centers for the Weather types in Chicago were "churches and seminaries", including McCormick, the Presby school in Hyde Park.

So: a)this is really interesting. b)I'm really curious about whether CTS housed Weather Underground folks during this action. c)Can I get CTS to house radical activists these days? I bet I could! d)I'm still unconvinced my arguments for violence, but it's interesting that a group designed to, basically, do what Cone calls white people to do, to become ontologically black and radically in solidarity with the oppressed, so quickly turned to violence... e)The "Weatherbureau", the group's leaders, did some pretty sneaky/vile things in order to maintain control over local groups. This seems to be counter-revolutionary, and is certainly counter-Anarcho-Baptist. So there. f)this is a pretty good book and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it.

Heck, it beats studying.



Anonymous said...

How is it counter-revolutionary? The CIA is counter-revolutionary.

It's only counter [your vision of] revolutionary.

The Weather Underground wounded the SDS to a point where it never really recovered. I take issue with the way they consolidated power amongst a few individual.

That said, their confrontation of the proto-police state, had it succeeded, might have prevented the all-out militarism of today's police. Cops in the U.S. were let off their leash during the domestic war on drugs and are currently unmanageable.

Peaceful protest, candlelight vigils and numerous sit-ins have done very, very little to affect the way the current government operates. Sometimes direct action is the only reasonable course.

David Reese said...


Yeah, the part of Weather's tactics that I refer to here as "counter-revolutionary" is not their directness. Rather, it is the way they tried to undermine the authority in local groups in order to add power to the central organizing Weather Bureau... Basically, according to this book, Bureau members would show up and sow division in a local group, try to disempower strong local leaders, and empower those who would tow the party line.

That's what I think is counter-revolutionary. Because if your movement undermines individual autonomy, I'm not sure you can go on to create a state that values individual autonomy.

I mean, clearly, it's the Baptist in me speaking here, and I could be wrong.

(Sorry that my language was all lumped together and easily misunderstood in this post, I guess.)

Happy studying!