Forty Years Ago
Happy New Year
2008 is the Fortieth Anniversary of the 1968 Revolution.
And once again the Amerikan Empire is in the throes of a foreign war and a Presidential Election. While a new activist movement has arisen in opposition to Imperialism, Globalization and Capitalism. What goes around comes around....Of course some folks dread that.
The Tet Offensive (Tet Mau Than) or Tong Cong Kich/Tong Khoi Nghia (General Offensive, General Uprising) was a three-phase military campaign launched between 30 January and 23 September 1968, by the combined forces of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF, or derogatively, Viet Cong) and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). The purpose of the operations, which were unprecedented in their magnitude and ferocity, was to strike military and civilian command and control centers throughout the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and to spark a general uprising among the population that would then topple the Saigon government, thus ending the war in a single blow.
Constraints imposed on pleasure incite the pleasure of living without constraints.
The more I make love, the more I want to make revolution.
The more I make revolution, the more I want to make love.
Considering that the Sud-Aviation factory at Nantes has been occupied for two days by the workers and students of that city,
and that today the movement is spreading to several factories (Nouvelles Messageries de la Presse Parisienne in Paris, Renault in Cléon, etc.),
THE SORBONNE OCCUPATION COMMITTEE calls for
the immediate occupation of all the factories in France and the formation of Workers Councils.
Comrades, spread and reproduce this appeal as quickly as possible.
Sorbonne, 16 May 1968, 3:30 pm
A view from the Chicago Democratic Convention riots by Richard Goldstein
"You afraid?" I asked a kid from California. He zipped his army jacket up to his neck, and filled his palm with a wad of Vaseline. "I dunno," he answered. "My toes feel cold, but my ears are burning."
We were standing together in Lincoln Park, not long after curfew on Tuesday night, watching an unbroken line of police. Around us were 1000 insurgents: hippies, Marxists, tourists, reporters, Panthers, Angels, and a phalanx of concerned ministers, gathered around a 12-foot cross. Occasionally a cluster of kids would break away from the rally to watch the formation in the distance. They spoke quietly, rubbing cream on their faces, and knotting dampened undershirts around their mouths. Not all their accoutrements were defensive. I saw saps and smoke bombs, steel-tipped boots and fistfuls of tacks. My friend pulled out a small canister from his pocket. "Liquid pepper," he explained.
Watching these kids gather sticks and stones, I realized how far we have come from that mythical summer when everyone dropped acid, sat under a tree, and communed. If there were any flower children left in America, they had heeded the underground press, and stayed home. Those who came fully anticipated confrontation. There were few virgins to violence in the crowd tonight. Most had seen—if not shed—blood, and that baptism had given them a determination of sorts. The spirit of Lincoln Park was to make revolution the way you make love—ambivalently, perhaps but for real.
The cops advanced at 12:40 a.m., behind two massive floodlight-trucks. They also had the fear; you could see it in their eyes (wide and wet) and their mouths. All week, you watched them cruise the city—never alone and never unarmed. At night, you heard their sirens in the streets, and all day, their helicopters in the sky. On duty, the average Chicago cop was a walking arsenal—with a shotgun in one hand, a riot baton (long and heavy with steel tips) in the other, and an assortment of pistols, nightsticks, and ominous canisters in his belt. At first, all that equipment seemed flattering. But then you saw under the helmets, and the phallic weaponry, and you felt the fear again. Immigrant to stranger, cop to civilian, old man to kid. The fear that brought the people of Chicago out into the streets during Martin Luther King's open housing march, now reflected in the fists of these cops. The fear that made the people of Gage Park spit at priests, and throw stones at nuns, now authorized to kill. And you realized that the cops weren't putting on that display for you; no—a cop's gun is his security blanket, just as Vaseline was yours.
Then the lights shone brilliant orange and the tear gas guns exploded putt-putt-puttutt, and the ministers dipped their cross into a halo of smothering fog. The gas hit like a great wall of pepper and you ran coughing into the streets, where you knew there would be rocks to throw and windows to smash and something to feel besides fear.
The soldiers stood on all the bridges, sealing off Grant Park from the city streets. The kids couldn't be gassed anymore, because the wind was blowing fumes across the guarded bridges and into every open pore of the Conrad Hilton, and the hotel was filled with good people who had tears in their eyes. So the soldiers just stood with their empty guns poised against the tide. And they were frowning at the kids who shouted "put down your guns; join us." A few hid flowers in their uniforms, and some smiled, but mostly, they stood posing for their own death masks.
"Wouldn't you rather hold a girl than a gun?" asked one kid with his arm around two willing chicks.
"You don't understand," the soldier stammered, moving his tongue across his lips. "It's orders. We have to be here."
That was Wednesday—nomination day—and the city was braced for escalation. At the afternoon rally, an American flag was hauled down, and the police responded by wading into the center of the crowd, with clubs flying. The kids built barricades of vacated benches, pelted the police with branches, and tossed plastic bags of cow's blood over their heads. . . .
With every semblance of press identification I owned pinned to my shirt, I set out across the mall. But most of the crowd had the same idea. Across on Michigan Avenue, I could hear the shouts of demonstrators who were re-grouping at the Hilton. I stopped to wet my undershirt in a fountain and ran down the street. My hands were shaking with anticipation and I could no longer close my eyes without seeing helmets and hearing chants. So my body was committed, but my head remained aloof.
The Soviet Invasion
of Czechoslovakia: August 1968
In the morning hours of August 21, 1968, the Soviet army invaded Czechoslovakia along with troops from four other Warsaw Pact countries. The occupation was the beginning of the end for the Czechoslovak reform movement known as the Prague Spring.
This web site contains material from the days immediately following the invasion, and they reflect the atmosphere in Czechoslovakia at the time: tense, chaotic, uncertain, full of pathos, fear, and expectation...
First-phase SDSers hadn’t talked much about values. But as anti-war activity heated up during the second phase, SDSers were looking for new worldviews, indulging in new tastes and lifestyles. Pardun, for whom LSD was practically religion, took the hippie lifestyle as a facet of the movement.
But neither critique nor lifestyle, without political gains, were enough by late 1967, when second-phase leaders began to worry about the realism of their project. Pardun puts its succinctly: "Protesting the war," he writes, "assumed that it was a mistake and that if we could convince the war makers of that then the war would end."
Escalations in ground forces and bombing–his book recounts them, brigade by brigade, ton by ton–told SDS that the war wasn’t simply a "mistake" and that hawks would not be persuaded–until and unless doves could take power away from them.
Several prairie leaders, notably Carl Oglesby, Greg Calvert, and Carl Davidson, began to concoct theories to deal with the task. Three elements were common to their formulations: the notion of a "New Working Class," of "resistance," and of youth as a powerful and independent force. The "New Working Class" was a highly technical, white-collar proletariat, whose members, proponents of the theory insisted, were going to replace the blue-collar industrial workforce. "Resistance" was a vaguer idea, which took practical form in a campaign to sabotage and derail the military draft. Youth were "revolutionary" because they weren’t sworn to doctrines about racial supremacy and My Country, Right or Wrong. They also smoked pot.
The Youth International Party (whose adherents were known as Yippies, a variant on "Hippies") was a highly theatrical political party established in the United States in 1967. An offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s, the Yippies presented a more radically youth-oriented and countercultural alternative to those movements. They employed theatrical gestures—such as advancing a pig ("Pigasus the Immortal") as a candidate for President in 1968—to mock the social status quo.They have been described as a highly theatrical youth movement of “symbolic politics.”
It was during the conventions in 1968 that the Yippies really made a national splash.
At the turbulent Democratic gathering in Chicago, Yippie founders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin presented their candidate for president – "Pigasus the Immortal," a real pig.
But the scene at the convention turned ugly as Chicago police, and then the National Guard, clashed with antiwar protesters. In the aftermath, Hoffman and Rubin were among seven protesters arrested and charged with conspiring to incite violence.
During the trial of the so-called "Chicago Seven," Hoffman and Rubin continued to play to the media, one day showing up for court in judicial robes. Ultimately, the charges against the defendants were dismissed.
Paul Krassner, who was among the founding members of the Yippies with Hoffman and Rubin, said the party came about because "the whole antiwar effort seemed dreary. .. We wanted to add some color and fun to the demonstrations."
Yippie Workshop Speech by Abbie Hoffman (1968)
Cops are like Yippies-you can never find the leaders... You just let 'em know that you're stronger psychically than they are. And you are, because you came here for nothin' and they're holdin' on to their fuckin' pig jobs 'cause of that little fuckin' paycheck and workin' themselves up, you know. Up to what? To a fuckin' ulcer. Sergeant. We got them by the balls. The whole thing about guerrilla theatre is gettin' them to believe it. Right.
Theatre, guerrilla theatre, can be used as defense and as an offensive weapon. I mean, I think like people could survive naked, see. I think you could take all your fuckin' clothes off, a cop won't hit ya. You jump in Lake Michigan, he won't go after you, but people are too chickenshit to do that. It can be used as an offensive and defensive weapon, like blood. We had a demonstration in New York. We had seven gallons of blood in little plastic bags. You know, if you convince 'em you're crazy enough, they won't hurt ya. With the blood thing, cop goes to hit you, right, you have a bag of blood in your hand. He lifts h is stick up, you take your bag of blood and go whack over your own head. All this blood pours out, see. Fuckin' cop standin'. Now that says a whole lot more than a picket sign that says end the war in wherever the fuck it is you know. I mean in that demonstration, there was a fuckin' war there. People came down and looked and said holy shit I don't know what it is, blood all over the fuckin' place, smokebombs goin' off, flares, you know, tape recorders with the sounds of machine guns, cops on horses tramplin' Christmas shoppers. It was a fuckin' war. And they say, right, I know what the fuck you're talkin' about. You're talkin' about war. What the fuck has a picket line got to do with war? But people that are into a very literal bag, like that heavy word scene, you know, don't understand the use of communication in this country and the use of media. I mean, if they give a ten-page speech against imperialism, everybody listens and understands and says yeah. But you throw fuckin' money out on the Stock Exchange, and people get that right away. And they say, right, I understand what that's about. And if they don't know what you're doin', fuck 'em. Who cares? Take this, see, you use blank space as information. You carry a sign that says END THE. You don't need the next word, you just carry a sign that says END, you know. That's enough. I mean the Yippie symbol is Y. So you say, why, man, why, why? Join the Y, bring your sneakers, bring your helmet, right, bring your thing, whatever you got. Y, you say to the Democrats, baby, Y that's not a V it's a Y. You can do a whole lotta shit. Steal it, steal the V, it's a Y. It's up the revolution like that. Keeping your cool and having good wits is your strongest defense.
If you don't want it on TV, write the work "FUCK" on your head, see, and that won't get on TV, right? But that's where theatre is at, it's TV. I mean our thing's for TV. We don't want to get on Meet the Press. What's that shit? We want Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson show, we want the shit where people are lookin' at it and diggin' it. They're talking about reachin' the troops in Viet Nam so they write in The Guardian! [An independent radical newsweekly published in New York.] That's groovy. I've met a lot of soldiers who read The Guardian, you know. But we've had articles in Jaguar magazine, Cavalier, you know, National Enquirer interviews the Queen of the Yippies, someone nobody ever heard of and she runs a whole riff about the Yippies and Viet Nam or whatever her thing is and the soldiers get it and dig it and smoke a little grass and say yeah I can see where she's at. That's why the long hair. I mean shit, you know, long hair is just another prop. You go on TV and you can say anything you want but the people are lookin' at you and they're lookin' at the cat next to you like David Susskind or some guy like that and they're sayin' hey man there's a choice, I can see it loud and clear. But when they look at a guy from the Mobilization [against the War in Vietnam] and they look at David Susskind, they say well I don't know, they seem to be doing the same thing, can't understand what they're doin'. See, Madison Avenue people think like that. That's why a lot SDS's don't like what we're doin'. 'Cause they say we're like exploiting; we're usin' the tools of Madison Ave. But that's because Madison Ave. is effective in what it does. They know what the fuck they're doin'. Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Issues and Answers-all those bullshit shows, you know, where you get a Democrat and a Republican arguin' right back and forth, this and that, this and that, yeah yeah. But at the end of the show nobody changes their fuckin' mind, you see. But they're tryin' to push Brillo, you see, that's good, you ought to use Brillo, see, and 'bout every ten minutes on will come a three-minute thing of Brillo. Brillo is a revolution, man, Brillo is sex, Brillo is fun, Brillo is bl bl bl bl bl bl bl bl. At the end of the show people ain't fuckin' switchin' from Democrat to Republicans or Commies, you know, the right-wingers or any of that shit. They're buying Brillo! And the reason they have those boring shows is because they don't want to get out any information that'll interfere with Brillo. I mean, can you imagine if they had the Beatles goin' zing zing zing zing zing zing zing, all that jump and shout, you know, and all of a sudden they put on an ad where the guy comes on very straight: "You ought to buy Brillo because it's rationally the correct decision and it's part of the American political process and it's the right way to do things." You know, fuck, they'll buy the Beatles, they won't buy the Brillo.
We taped a thing for the David Susskind Show. As he said the word hippie, a live duck came out with "HIPPIE" painted on it. The duck flew up in the air and shat on the floor and ran all around the room. The only hippie in the room, there he is. And David went crazy. 'Cause David, see, he's New York Times head, he's not Daily News freak. And he said the duck is out and blew it. We said, we'll see you David, goodnight. He say, oh no no. We'll leave the duck in. And we watched the show later when it came on, and the fuckin' duck was all gone. He done never existed. And I called up Susskind and went quack quack quack, you motherfucker, that was the best piece of information: that was a hippie. And everything we did, see, non-verbally, he cut out. Like he said, "How do you eat?" and we fed all the people, you know. But he cut that out. He wants to deal with the words. You know, let's play word games, let's analyze it. Soon as you analyze it, it's dead, it's over. You read a book and say well now I understand it, and go back to sleep.
The media distorts. But it always works to our advantage. They say there's low numbers, right? 4000, 5000 people here. That's groovy. Think of it, 4000 people causin' all this trouble. If you asked me, red say there are four Yippies. I'd say we're bringin' another four on Wednesday. That's good, that freaks 'em out. They're lookin' around. Only four. I mean I saw that trip with the right wing and the Communist conspiracy. You know, you'd have 5000 people out there at the HUAC demonstrations eight years ago in San Francisco and they'd say there are five Communists in the crowd, you know. And they did it all. You say, man that's pretty cool. So you just play on their paranoia like that. Yeah, there're four guys out around there doin' a thing. So distortion's gonna backfire on them, 'cause all of a sudden Wednesday by magic there are gonna be 200,000 fuckin' people marchin' on that amphitheater. That's how many we're gonna have. And they'll say, "Wow. From 4000 up to 200,000. Those extra four Yippies did a hell of a good job." I dig that, see. I'm not interested in explainin' my way of life to straight people or people that aren't interested. They never gonna understand it anyway and I couldn't explain it anyway. All I know is, in terms of images and how words are used as images to shape your environment, the New York Times is death to us. That's the worst fuckin' paper as far as the Yippies are concerned. They say, "Members of the so-called Youth International Party held a demonstration today." That ain't nothin'. What fuckin' people read that? They fall asleep. 'Cause the New York Times has all the news that's fit to print, you know, so once they have all the news, what do the people have to do? They just read the New York Times and drink their coffee and go back to work, you know. But the Daily News, that's a TV set. Look at it, I mean look at the picture right up front and the way they blast those headlines. You know, "Yippies, sex-loving, dope-loving, commie, beatnik, hippie, freako, weirdos." That's groovy, man, that's a whole life style, that's a whole thing to be, man. I mean you want to get in on that.
Jerry C. Rubin was perhaps the most outlandish figure to ever defended American civil liberties. A revolutionary and anti-war activist, his voice and zany stunts were heard and seen throughout the world. Rubin was a master of media sensationalism, exposing American injustice through outrageous spectacles and whimsical press conferences. His outrageousness and free style made him a household name, and soon every politician's worst nightmare.
During the 70's Rubin reflected about his past deeds and thoughts. In essays he would admit his wrongs, explaining how sexism, homophobia, racism, and drug abuse shaped his beliefs. Once believing homosexuality was a sick behavior, he now understood it as a valid sexual expression. He also thanked women for the role they played in creating his public image: women were the ones who typed his manuscripts, handled his clerical work, and labored behind the scenes. He abandoned his "Kill You Parents" mantra and encouraged people to accept the "Love Your Parents" wisdom.
In the 80's Rubin slowly removed himself from the media spotlight, complaining, "To live inside a media image is like a prison. Living for your image means sacrificing your true self." He made a few guest appearances with Abbie Hoffman and appeared in the movies "Growing Up in America" (1987), "Rude Awakening" (1989), and "Panther" (released 1995).
Rubin died on November 28, 1994 when he was struck by a car while jay walking in Los Angeles. He was buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.