New SDS


Scott Nelson
 

An organizing committee of the New SDS is holding informational meetings on the campus of Texas A&M University with a view toward organizing a chapter on campus and in the community. Can anyone explain the differences and similarities between the New SDS and DSA?


Jeffrey Masko
 

The new SDS is only the SDS by name, I joined a chapter about a decade ago when I was doing graduate work. They were not militant in the least and aren't even all lefties as we had a "anarcho-capitalist" (!?!) in the chapter. It was mostly anti-war stuff and with very little that didn't fold into reformist positions and actions. They were taken aback when I suggested a Lenin reading group since most of them not only didn't know much about Lenin, but had never read him.



Jim Farmelant
 

The original SDS of the sixties started off as sort of the DSA of that time. The original SDS, after all, was a rebranding of the Student League for Industrial Democracy, which like its parent organization, the League for Industrial Democracy, was a social democratic organization. As we all know, SDS would become radicalized by the late 1960's. I have no idea as to whether the New SDS will follow a similar trajectory or not.


Scott Nelson
 

Jeffery,

Thank you for the information and for sharing your experience with SDS.

On Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 11:26 AM Jeffrey Masko <j.alan.masko@...> wrote:
The new SDS is only the SDS by name, I joined a chapter about a decade ago when I was doing graduate work. They were not militant in the least and aren't even all lefties as we had a "anarcho-capitalist" (!?!) in the chapter. It was mostly anti-war stuff and with very little that didn't fold into reformist positions and actions. They were taken aback when I suggested a Lenin reading group since most of them not only didn't know much about Lenin, but had never read him.



Scott Nelson
 

Jim,

Good background information. Thank you.

Scott

On Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 12:01 PM Jim Farmelant <farmelantj@...> wrote:
The original SDS of the sixties started off as sort of the DSA of that time. The original SDS, after all, was a rebranding of the Student League for Industrial Democracy, which like its parent organization, the League for Industrial Democracy, was a social democratic organization. As we all know, SDS would become radicalized by the late 1960's. I have no idea as to whether the New SDS will follow a similar trajectory or not.


Farans Kalosar
 

Unfortunately, when SDS became radicalized it turned into a total shitshow. The reasons for this are many and complex, but the tragic example imo is not one worth repeating as farce.  

The winner of "The Sixties" in universities was the vicious and rebarbative John Silber. The likes of Silber spearheaded a purge of anything or anyone smacking of SDS in universities--for example in the "turn" of English departments away from actual scholarship and into postmodernist "theory" (that revered the Nazi collaborator DeMan) and the mystical exaltation of Freshman Comp, which became a religion for repressive phonies like the late Gregory Colomb. 

A few exceptions got preserved in the amber of tenure, but graduate students, adjunct faculty, and the entry-level "professoriate" were much more than decimated, using the excuse of the "crash" of the academic job market during the Nixon recession. This silent and unreported purge found an echo in the broader systemic victory of Reaganism across the board, which remains triumphant today, and is likely to preside over the collapse of the United States, constitution and all, within the next ten years.  The death instinct is strong in America, as the paranoid antivax nonsense demonstrates.


gilschaeffer82@...
 

I can't agree that SDS's turn toward Marxism was a total shitshow. It was the way the US left worked its way out of the Cold War end of ideology and reacquainted itself with world history. Part of that reacquaintance was a rereading of the history of Marxism, a rereading that was aided by the contributions of Hal Draper and Neil Harding, two authors that Louis esteemed highly and relied on in developing his political views after he quit the SWP. Not all of the history of the post-SDS left took place in university English departments. Sure, you can become a personal survivalist if you want to, but if you want to continue to fight the American death instinct then history and political theory still matter.


Farans Kalosar
 

SDS after 1968 was a shitshow.  The organization collapsed out from under its many adherents, leaving them vulnerable to decades of reaction and to shitshow politics like that of the despicable Black Bloc or the vulgar Graeberites after the collapse of Occupy.  (These are and were not Marxist--but where was the SDS-ified Marxist left?  Answer: deader than the fabled dodo.) The "turn" of SDS to Marxism was too little, too late, and--certainly as far as PL and RYM were concerned--tactically and theoretically as wrong and as  contemptible as it was possible to be.  

I made none of the assertions implicitly attributed to me, and anyone with an ounce of brains should be able to see that. What a load of disingenuous passive-aggressive horseshit. But that's SDS for you.

I never joined SDS, but was in pretty continual contact throughout up to'69 with SDS organizers whom I knew and occasionally joined forces with-Dow chemical recruitment protest. student strike, Days of Rage, etc.. They were already (sort of) Marxist-leaning when I knew them, though still within the limitations of the original vaguely social-democratic tendency. Then they all joined the Weathermen in a bloc.  I ran into one of them on a street in East Boston soon after that, and he told me that they were all learning karate and were headed to Revere Beach to pick fights with working-class youth and thus win them over to the cause of revolution.  

Fast forward a couple of years, and I ran into this same guy coming down the steps of Widener Library.  He said he was in Harvard Law.  I heard that after that he became a Wall Street lawyer and got rich in the good old Harvard tradition.  

Some Marxist. Tom Hayden, Bill Ayers, Michael Kazin, Professor B. Dohrn? Great Marxist legacies there. If the left today can't do better than this, it's too damn bad.

SDS "veterans" like to parade themselves as the saviors of American radicalism, when in all too many cases they were and are its gravediggers. If there is to be a renewed left in the US today, it will have to take an entirely different direction, one to which SDS and Sixties Leftists, as such, may have much less of a legacy to contribute than many of them think. 


Michael Meeropol
 

I have a VERY different "take" on the individuals attacked in this recent post --- and I think it's worth a bit of back and forth ---
First let me say that I was a "member at large" of SDS from 1962 through 1970 when the "days of rage" in Chicago basically ended the existence of the National Organization (I think the entire office was donated to the Wisconsin State Historical Society).   I was never an officer.  Never attended a national convention.  Never was a member of a local group once I graduated from Swarthmore in 1964.  (Though I was in Madison, Wisconsin from 1966 through the spring of 1970, I never joined a local SDS chapter there).   So my knowledge of SDS is purely from reading New Left Notes (which had a lot!) and Liberation News Service packets.  Of course, I also knew a lot of individuals involved over the years.   So I have no particular "dog" in this hunt --- no "scores' to settle with political opponents --- just a terrible sense of sadness at the possibilities that were squandered ...

On Thu, Sep 2, 2021 at 11:30 PM <fkalosar101@...> wrote:

...
I never joined SDS, but was in pretty continual contact throughout up to'69 with SDS organizers whom I knew and occasionally joined forces with-Dow chemical recruitment protest. student strike, Days of Rage, etc.. They were already (sort of) Marxist-leaning when I knew them, though still within the limitations of the original vaguely social-democratic tendency. Then they all joined the Weathermen in a bloc.  I ran into one of them on a street in East Boston soon after that, and he told me that they were all learning karate and were headed to Revere Beach to pick fights with working-class youth and thus win them over to the cause of revolution.  

Fast forward a couple of years, and I ran into this same guy coming down the steps of Widener Library.  He said he was in Harvard Law.  I heard that after that he became a Wall Street lawyer and got rich in the good old Harvard tradition.

ME:  A sample of one doesn't tell much of a story.  There were also "old" SDSers like my former dorm mate Paul Booth who worked his entire life, first with the Midwest Academy, then with AFSCME, then as an independent "left" Democrat --- always on the side of the angels.  My brother Robert has been an activist all his life --- founding the Rosenberg Fund for Children in 1990 and raising money to help kids whose parents have been targeted grow up with a full community of support --- permitting the radical tradition to be "carried forward" and "passed on" --- He has worked tirelessly against the death penalty both here and around the world.

But again --- individual examples do not tell the story of why the ORGANIZATION of SDS which seemed so promising in 1968 and 69 failed to sustain and channel its tremendous growth (again, according to the information in Kirk Sale's book).
  
Some Marxist. Tom Hayden, Bill Ayers, Michael Kazin, Professor B. Dohrn? Great Marxist legacies there. If the left today can't do better than this, it's too damn bad.

I don't know Michael Kazin's work so I won't comment on him.  However, despite my tactical disagreements with the Weather-People you have to admire the courage and commitment of Billy Ayers and Berhardine Dohrn and the rest -- Marx criticized the people who formed the Paris Commune but he also praised them as "stormers of Heaven's Gate."   I think the Weather-People tried their damndest -- the fact that some landed on their feet and avoided the fate of those killed or incarcerated for long periods of time should not take away from what they tried to do.   Tom Hayden followed a different route but I think if one follows his career one would have to say that he also was aiming in the "right" (= correct) direction.

THere is a great saying by one of my old Madison friends, Paul Buhle:   "Nothing works so everything should be tried."  I use that as my yardstick for measuring the lives of "old" radicals .... And yes -- the left moving forward HAS to do better than the old generation did.  Maybe we helped end the Vietnam War and prevented intervention in Angola and Mozambique -- but we couldn't stop the counter-revolutions in Central America nor the rise of right wing Reaganism (and now Trumpism). 

SDS "veterans" like to parade themselves as the saviors of American radicalism, when in all too many cases they were and are its gravediggers. If there is to be a renewed left in the US today, it will have to take an entirely different direction, one to which SDS and Sixties Leftists, as such, may have much less of a legacy to contribute than many of them think. 

My argument is that all us old folks have an historical legacy to contribute -- our memories, our knowledge, our interpretations --- For the younger generation who didn't experience the years 1960-1980, they can either learn from us or from establishment historians and journalists .... In that context, I think all of us have things to contribute. especially to counter-act the establishment stories of the 1960s.

[An analogy -- I think in the 60s and70s a number of us benefited from reading memoirs by communists (Al Richmond's A LONG VIEW FROM THE LEFT -- Carl Marzani's MEMOIRS --- etc.) or books about communists (Mark Naison's COMMUNISTS IN HARLEM) --- we didn't necessarily agree with them on much but the personal stories were definitely helpful.]

ANYWAY -- I am glad we're having this discussion --- Mike 
_._,_._,_


gilschaeffer82@...
 

fkalosar, I don't understand your response. I said there was something to be learned from the post-SDS New Left's immersion in Marxism that is useful for understanding the US political system today. I'm not claiming to be a savior of anything or that any of the individual members of the New Left that you name contributed to that understanding. My reading of Lenin in 1971 while doing factory organizing with the RU led me to focus on the importance of the undemocratic structure of the US Constitution, something that I believe the early SDS avoided and the later Marxist New Left ignored. If you don't think the undemocratic structure of our political system is important or that classical Marxism did not make the goal of a democratic republic its primary strategic objective, say so. That was the subject of my comments.


John Obrien
 

I hold a different view, based on my actual experience, than this U. S. academic - a privileged
Harvard student - who does not "risk" use of their real name? - but claims they are both of
over 70 years and tenured.  But has stated their views, not based on actual hands on involvement,
or in knowing what those in SDS ACTUALLY DID, in the 1960's.  I was a SDS member and was aware
that often SDS formed coalitions under other names - and were very successful, in many of their efforts.

The words of arrogant judgmental petit bourgeois academics - who viewed "from the outside"
(or just read about events), with repeating the same non-involvement.  I did not go to Days of Rage
in Chicago, because I disagreed with the political judgment.  But I knew then and still know some
who did and they were dedicated and principled - and remained involved activists.  Many who
were involved in SDS then, did not as this person stated: "all joined the Weathermen in a bloc".
Actually the opposite happened, with many as myself not joining the RYM1 in Chicago, in Oct. 1969, 
that became eventually the Weathermen (and then Weather).  Many in SDS remained activists in
many movements since 1969. They did not all become "Wall Street lawyers", who stopped caring
about others and the world.   These words seems more to discourage, instead of encouraging needed 
involvement tto resist and change.  Or perhaps just an isolated angry insecure sectarian, seeking recognition
and acceptance of "their greatness".  

I have met people who were not Marxists and carried out much courage and affected change.
And I have met some self-avowed Marxists, who read the literature and thought they were better
and "smarter", but never willing to risk anything - and never experienced the harshness imposed
on laborers.  And did nothing to cause actual affect.

The language of sectarian politics and "all knowing arrogant elitism", turns off honest good people
who sense talkers, but not serious effective organizers. It is not what you know - but what you do, 
And using Marxist ideology, without just as a academic university debating societies, as the orientation
and sole practice of ones "activism". Instead in working with others (especiallu laborers who can change
things) and not just feel as oneself "superior" - in being so aware.   Lenin correctly identified those who
were privileged sitting in the Paris Cafes - as "all knowing" - and not making effective needed change.

I have known a number of courageous academics, who became involved and "risked" around the world. 
And academics who contributed ideas and awareness, that benefited those organizing workers and 
oppressed.  But so often then, have heard and read those "all knowing" sectarians, who so much want to 
impress in political gatherings, as if they were in a college classroom trying to impress their professor.

So much bad learning and bad practice, so often exhibited in the many later Trotskyist sects, that are
"so knowing" and arrogant in dismissing all others, with only them having "true faith and knowledge".
People can disagree about politics and tactics on various issues, but we must understand that to
cause more divisions and have fewer people involved, benefits more the capitalists who seek to
have a disorganized left and unorganized working class.    SDS or DSA themselves as groups. are not
the central problem.  It is those who are sectarians who have "all faith and knowledge" and cause
unneeded disunity and would rather be a "big fish in a small pond".  
  
The great threats of Climate Change and nuclear weapons, requires the left to help build a class
aware labor union leadership that consists of rank and file militants, seeking to organize The Class,
that can end capitalist exploitation and rule.   

Instead of pissing contests and personal attacks - this site has been most useful when sharing 
information on history, economics and raising awareness - for those to hopefully use and act on.


From: <fkalosar101@...>
Sent: Thursday, September 2, 2021 8:30 PM
.
 
SDS after 1968 was a shitshow.  The organization collapsed out from under its many adherents, leaving them vulnerable to decades of reaction and to shitshow politics like that of the despicable Black Bloc or the vulgar Graeberites after the collapse of Occupy.  (These are and were not Marxist--but where was the SDS-ified Marxist left?  Answer: deader than the fabled dodo.) The "turn" of SDS to Marxism was too little, too late, and--certainly as far as PL and RYM were concerned--tactically and theoretically as wrong and as  contemptible as it was possible to be.  

I made none of the assertions implicitly attributed to me, and anyone with an ounce of brains should be able to see that. What a load of disingenuous passive-aggressive horseshit. But that's SDS for you.

I never joined SDS, but was in pretty continual contact throughout up to'69 with SDS organizers whom I knew and occasionally joined forces with-Dow chemical recruitment protest. student strike, Days of Rage, etc.. They were already (sort of) Marxist-leaning when I knew them, though still within the limitations of the original vaguely social-democratic tendency. Then they all joined the Weathermen in a bloc.  I ran into one of them on a street in East Boston soon after that, and he told me that they were all learning karate and were headed to Revere Beach to pick fights with working-class youth and thus win them over to the cause of revolution.  

Fast forward a couple of years, and I ran into this same guy coming down the steps of Widener Library.  He said he was in Harvard Law.  I heard that after that he became a Wall Street lawyer and got rich in the good old Harvard tradition.  

Some Marxist. Tom Hayden, Bill Ayers, Michael Kazin, Professor B. Dohrn? Great Marxist legacies there. If the left today can't do better than this, it's too damn bad.

SDS "veterans" like to parade themselves as the saviors of American radicalism, when in all too many cases they were and are its gravediggers. If there is to be a renewed left in the US today, it will have to take an entirely different direction, one to which SDS and Sixties Leftists, as such, may have much less of a legacy to contribute than many of them think. 


Farans Kalosar
 

This kind of entirely personal smear attack was explicitly forbidden by Louis P.  It has no place on the list going forward.  Where are the moderators?

Nothing could more perfectly illustrate the bankruptcy of the SDS cult in today's dangerous political and environmental situation. This is what it comes down to in all too many cases and why we have to leave it behind.

Really, Marxmail.  We can do better than this kind of childish flamebait. The place for that is the SDS/Sixties list on Facebook, not here.


Farans Kalosar
 

For the record, I've never claimed tenure, which I do not have. Any statement to the contrary is false and IMO either knowingly so or the product of a lamentable mental lapse. My education was paid for by scholarships and loans, which I paid back out of my earnings as a worker. Like Louis, I spent more than thirty year in IT, primarily as a technical writer, after subsisting in the gig economy as a teaching assistant, lecturer, instructor, and library clerk. My experience is common to many workers both inside and outside the university.  

Those who disrespect that work or knowingly spread lies about the academic underclass and knowledge workers in general have no claim to speak on behalf of the working class at any time or under any circumstances. 


Mark Lause
 

Just to throw in my two cents as a member of the old SDS.

In my opinion, the decision of the currents of the far left to abstain from the SDS was one of the worse of the 1960s.  Contrary to how it generally seems to be getting discussed here, the SDS was not a disciplined cadre organization.  Pretending that this or that current that was in the SDS WAS the SDS is simply a misunderstanding of the reality.  In practice, much of it paid very little attention to "the leadership" in the national office. 

The political level was abysmal, and the dominant belief that somehow the Democratic party would managed to muddle through into some new radical manifestation was groundless and silly.  And some disciplined socialists could have done wonders about that.  Then, too, over the past thirty years, I found the political level of some socialist cadre organizations to be not that much higher, and the hardly free of some of the same silliness.  And I'm not talking about the DSA, which obviously inherited much of this.

Why a more coherent socialist current hasn't emerged as a more active force within the DSA also eludes me.

In the end, the choice between participating in an overtly socialist current within a mass organization of radical young people or throwing everything into spending thirty years turning a group of 6-8 people into a group of 6-8 slightly different people seems to me to have been a no-brainer.  Even on the most pragmatic level, I think that the organization would do better all around as a current of some influence in a significantly larger organization.

I am unfamiliar with the new SDS beyond seeing it as not the old SDS, despite similarities.

Cheers,
MAL


Farans Kalosar
 

Mark, I don't know about "your" SDS--as you say, the local orgs were all different--but I'm wondering whether the fault you mention doesn't lie as much with SDS as with eg the SWP.  Would they have been open to the SWP as they were to PL?   How interested were the chapters in anything "old left?"  This looks to me like two not tangoing--a failure of the entire US left, although a complex and many-sided one.  

Maybe there are some new currents. What about the young people who organized George Floyd solidarity marches not so long ago?  I don't know whether you are familiar with Bucyrus, Ohio, but there was a march there with more than a hundred people and not a single Oath Keeper or Boogaloo with an assault rifle. It took some pretty adroit organizing to make that happen--believe me it was a big surprise.  There must be some pretty advanced people in that Trump-loving "stronghold."  Who is going to reach out to them?  AFAIK they aren't necessarily students--a second SDS might not reach them.  

Maybe that's where old guys like you and Meeropol could pass some real insight to young people--as opposed to the dead-end cultism and nostalgia that are currently passing from the scene like the Grand Army of the Republic. 


Michael Meeropol
 

Thanks for the invitation (see below):

Well for what it's worth, I was always very impressed with the "decentralization" of the pre-Marxist-Leninist SDS --- the national organization provided communication (I thought New Left Notes always had VERY interesting information) and the National Secretary did a lot of travelling around both to LEARN what was going on at various local levels and also to be a conduit of information.

If there ever is a national organization that has the potential of challenging the status quo the way SDS (and the Panthers as well) did in the late 1960s (After Mike Klonsky was elected National Secretary at the 1968 convention he actually got a SLOT on "Face the Nation" --- is that likely to happen with the current leader of DSA?) --- anyway if EVER there is a national organization that can challenge the status quo, it might want to take a page from the decentralized "old" SDS ---

By the way, I think one of the reasons PL was able to make inroads into SDS is that SDS explicitly repudiated the anti-communist heritage that they "inherited" from SLID (Student League for Industrail Democracy) --- Had PL not had such a rigid approach to programs within SDS, they might have made a good contribution.   

The record of the 1968 convention where the origins of the split that ultimately destroyed the organization in 1969 first appeared, might be a useful indicator of what NOT to do when a relatively loosey-goosey organization is challenged by a disciplined sub-group.   The chants of "PL out!  PL out!!" did not help keep the organization "big tent" enough to accommodate PL and the Revolutionary Youth Movement folks --- who a year later became Weatherman.  Instead it promised that at the national level, SDS would be riven by a major conflict -- making the 1969 split virtually inevitable.

On Fri, Sep 3, 2021 at 9:25 PM <fkalosar101@...> wrote:

Maybe that's where old guys like you and Meeropol could pass some real insight to young people--as opposed to the dead-end cultism and nostalgia that are currently passing from the scene like the Grand Army of the Republic. 
_._,_._,_


gilschaeffer82@...
 

I want to pick up on Michael's emphasis on SDS's decentralized organizational structure, an issue he also raised in his first comment. He suggests that if the national officers of SDS had maintained the central office as the information hub that it had been traditionally, then SDS might not have fragmented and fallen apart. At the same time, he points out that the political movement that was nominally associated with the SDS name did not end with the break up of the national office, citing the national student strike in response to the invasion of Cambodia and the killings at Kent and Jackson States. I would add that SDS local chapter contingents were similarly active in the Moratorium of October 1969, the demonstrations at the Justice Department in support of the Panthers during the November 1969 antiwar march in Washington, and at the 1970 May Day rally in New Haven in support of Bobby Seale and other Panthers charged with murder (which coincided with the invasion of Cambodia and where the call for a nationwide strike got a big boost). With Weatherman having destroyed the national office, how were these ongoing activities organized and coordinated? Easy. SDS was a network of chapters with a long history of local and regional coordination and new avenues of communication were quickly established to replace the function previously carried out in part by the national office. With Weatherman and PL gone (which combined probably amounted to 10-20% of the membership at most) the majority of SDS members carried on much as before. Rather than any particular RYM II faction providing leadership, the Guardian newspaper in New York generally expressed the anti-imperialist, anti-racist, pro-working class politics of the remaining majority. In short, it wasn't an absence of organizational and communication capacity that caused the fragmentation and decline of the New Left, but the de-escalation and ending of the Vietnam war and the inability of any of the Marxist organizations to develop a political ideology and strategy appropriate for the US.


Glenn Kissack <gkissack@...>
 

With Weatherman and PL gone (which combined probably amounted to 10-20% of the membership at most) the majority of SDS members carried on much as before. 

Gil, I agree with you about SDS chapters carrying on as before, but PL continued to work in SDS after the split, unlike Weathermen. New Left Notes continued to be published and report on SDS activities, including articles written by PL members:


I was surprised that New Left Notes was published until 1974.

Full disclosure: I was in SDS at SUNY Stony Brook from 1967-1971 and was part of the Worker-Student Alliance (PL influenced) section of SDS. We were young, inexperienced and made plenty of mistakes, but we had an active and large chapter that organized protests and building takeovers against military and CIA recruiters and university war research and in support of striking cafeteria workers. We also brought twelve busloads of students and faculty for a huge anti-war march in DC in November 1969:


Glenn


gilschaeffer82@...
 

Glenn, I don't deny that PL/WSA continued to be active and I was disgusted when I learned that Weatherman had engineered a split because of its differences with PL. There were PL members in our chapter at Princeton and, although there were differences of ideology and strategy between PL and the majority of the chapter, there was never any reason for Weatherman to violate SDS's nonexclusion policy. However, when PL came out in early 1969 with its position that all nationalism is reactionary and criticized the Panthers and Black student groups while they were under attack from the police and the courts, well. that created a political divide that really undermined the possibility of continuing joint action. I take the May Day rally in New Haven in 1970 in support of the Panthers as an illustration of where the majority sentiment of the movement was at the time, and PL wasn't part of that.  


hari kumar
 

 I was in England and was never involved in this American movement. Could I ask if Max Elbaum's weighing as below is basically an accurate summary for those recalling that time? This comes from an interview rather than his book and seems to an outsider like myself, a plausible situation. Having weighed positive aspects, he discusses negative aspects. But here one matter he points to - but does not name as such is the 'objective' factor. He calls it "a mis-assessment of the conditions in the country, especially the resilience of capitalism." Another "mis-assessment" was for Elbaum, “miniaturized Leninism”; we essentially built small sects instead of flexible, mass revolutionary groups. This was related to our mis-assessment of the historical conditions. There was a proliferation of sectarian attitudes over political differences". To me from the outside, both of these are 'subjective factors'. In any case, it feels largely correct when I look back to the UK left. 

Anyway, the quote below: Is to be found here, at: Micah Uetricht: ‘Learning from the New Communist Movement. An Interview With Max Elbaum’; 30 SEP 2018;  at:                                                              
HTTPS://WWW.JACOBINMAG.COM/2018/09/MAX-ELBAUM-NEW-COMMUNIST-MOVEMENT-SOCIALISM-ORGANIZING

 

"For my part, on the positive side, the movement did see how central empire-building and racism were to US capitalism. There was a strong commitment to sinking roots in those communities that had the greatest potential to make radical change. The movement grasped the importance of collective action and the idea of people prioritizing political activity and advancing it in a collective way.                                                                                                                                      The movement did make some headway in breaking out of a US-centric view of the world. And there was an attempt to learn from and offer ideas to revolutionaries in other countries, and a strong sense of internationalism. In its early years, certain component parts did some interesting work on US politics, especially on the particular role of the special oppression of communities of color.                                                                                                                                        On the negative side, all sides of the movement were afflicted with a mis-assessment of the conditions in the country, especially the resilience of capitalism. Lots of people were off-base in the late 1960s and 1970s, but the movement couldn’t adjust when it became clear that the motion of national politics was moving to the right.                                      The ideological frameworks of the different component parts of the movement were rigid in their quest for orthodoxy — seeing Marxism-Leninism as a kind of omniscient science. Those ideological frameworks were off-base.                                                                       The movement was generally afflicted by ultra-left tendencies and a tendency to polarize forces that weren’t, in their view, as revolutionary as them. The model of organization the movement implemented was “miniaturized Leninism”; we essentially built small sects instead of flexible, mass revolutionary groups. This was related to our mis-assessment of the historical conditions. There was a proliferation of sectarian attitudes over political differences, some of which were important, but many weren’t."
Hari Kumar