Monday, December 2, 2013

to a young friend about weatheman

it occurs to me it might be useful to have some email exchanges on the subject, esp. re your question: "what lessons the current left student movements can learn from their actions/legacy."

let me say for a while i was worried a student left frustrated by our invasion of iraq might turn to violence. i thought my role then would be to say, no, don't go the w'man way. i wanted to counter any possible romanticizing of w'man (still do). but today's student left, assuming any, didn't go that way.

of course one reason is there was no draft vis a vis iraq. bush et al saw to it their misbegotten war would be conducted without conscription. dull and stunted as they were, they learned that much from vietnam.

but there's more: i've come to think w'man is in some ways -- not all -- unrepeatable. the confluence of events & influences that led to it are unlikely to recur.

i include the spate of assassinations (jfk, rfk, mlk, malcolm), which led to the feeling that electoral democracy was going under.

then the consequent riots in major cities. violence was in the air.

and, above all, vietnam. lbj was doing great things in his domestic programs though i couldn't appreciate that at the time due his undercutting these achievements by prosecuting/escalating this terrible war.

more, and crucial: we were infected & deluded by what i will call 3rd world revolutionism, marxist-leninist-maoism in all its expressions.

years later i would laugh at how i thought mao's red guards were akin to participants in the free speech movement, as led by savio at the university of california in berkeley.

how little i understood.

ho, fidel, mao were our heroes.

i am now reconciled to the fact that mao was a world historical tyrant/monster.

i don't think veterans of w'man — & friends — have gone through the process of critiquing their youthful illusions as so many veterans of the old left have.

on the other hand, so what? w'man was short-lived & died out, for the most part, when the war in vietnam ended.

marxism is (and should remain) a dead letter.

am i sorry i was part of w'man? i regret that i lacked the courage and imagination to find a personal path in life and at the same time oppose the war in vietnam. i didn't know how to do both.

it's worth mentioning that for me, and not a few of my jewish peers, the war in vietnam was the current version of holocaust. any means necessary were legit to oppose that.

back to the bigger point: islamism can never recruit americans the way 3rd-world revolutionism did.

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