American Samizdat

Monday, September 01, 2008. *

My Dear Friends and Allies:

I was not in the streets of Chicago forty years ago, but many of my close friends were. I will not rehash the details of those days, The Days of Rage that followed, nor the history and context of those times. All that is readily and copiously available.

As you reflect and, I hope, recover from yesterday's events, I urge you to think carefully and choose wisely in these next few days. There is great danger in unchecked emotion and thoughtless action. I hope you will not see martyrdom as an option.

We live in a time and place of ubiquitous mythology. While much of that mythology is recently contrived by the corporatocracy to justify its slash and burn juggernaut, a mythology has also been constructed by the Left to cover its steady demise over the four decades since the fiasco by the lake. I feel it my responsibility to discredit some of that mythology, and I will do it quickly and bluntly. It is best bludgeoned rather than surgically carved.

In spite of the fact that the Chicago Police Department made a fool of itself, more damage was done to the image of the Left than to that of the reactionary Right. Those few days, in fact, rang the death bells for any effectiveness that Port Huron might have hoped for.

At the very least, the actions in Chicago had almost no up-side result in the grand scheme of things. Nixon would have been elected anyway; even the Democratic Party was sick of itself. The Left did not end the wars in southeast Asia. The Viet Cong, Pol Pot, and advancing capitalism did that. We did not recapture the Democratic Party. Nixon got squirrely and dropped the power ball into Jimmy Carter's lap, who got squirrely and dropped it into Reagan's.

Eventually, we all either self-destructed or got bought off. Of the bright stars of the Chicago 7/8 (who were, by the way, less responsible for the riots than infiltrators and provocateurs), Abbie Hoffman died of a drug OD, Jerry Rubin became a staunch capitalist entrepreneur, and Tom Hayden is a self-satisfied liberal politician. Yawn. Like everything else, the bright spiritual and political promise of the 1960s got commodified. How much did you pay for those peace symbol earrings, by the way?

Please consider some realities . . . the only reason police action in Denver was minimized was that Nobama wanted it that way. Period. It was a calculated political stance. The kind folks running Mini-Ass-Polis have no such stake in your good health or right of free speech. I'm a bit surprised they granted you the preview. Hope you see it as such and act (or not) appropriately.

Lyndon Johnson in '68 was advised strongly by the Secret Service to avoid the DNC. They knew what was going down. They may have helped plan the little street bash that ensued. If you think that Bush and Cheney's announced absence from the convention has anything to do with somebody named Gustav, come by my place and we'll discuss some property at Yucca Mountain I'm brokering, as well as a nice vaccine made from millions of subatomic GPS transmitters.

Let me be clear. I respect your courage. If you are anything like what my friends and I were, you're scared to death, but committed to placing your bodies on the line. G*d knows I've breathed a few litres of tear gas my own se'f. I do want you to take direct action. But I want it to be effective.

Some of you are Food Not Bombsers. I have great respect for your charter values. I ask that you set the following example, doing what you do best:

Instead of painting riot stick targets on your noggins, go across the river to St Paul and feed as many homeless people as you can find. And don't advertise who you are while you're doing it. Why? Because you want to feed poor people and the cops will bust you if you politicize it and rabble rouse. It won't be such a rush as is running blind and vomiting from a phalanx of Kevlar, but it will do a butt load of good and you'll learn some humility.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you well. My generation of lefties let you down. If you repeat our mistakes, you are failing as well. Combine courage with wisdom, and . . .

Be at peace.

posted by Unknown at 9:29 AM
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