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Hayden on Rudd

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  • a.gronowicz@att.net
    Tom Hayden on Mark RuddTruthdigMay 8, 2009http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/20090507_tom_hayden_on_mark_rudd/By Tom HaydenDon t go around tonight, Well
    Message 1 of 10 , May 9, 2009
      Tom Hayden on Mark Rudd
      
      Truthdig
      May 8, 2009
      
      http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/20090507_tom_hayden_on_mark_rudd/
      
      By Tom Hayden
      
      Don't go around tonight, Well it's bound to take your
      life, There's a bad moon on the rise.
      
                            -Creedence Clearwater Revival,
                    1969
      
      The truth was obscure, too profound and too pure, To
      love it you have to explode.
      
                            -Bob Dylan, 1978
      
      Anyone meeting Mark Rudd today would think him a nice
      level-headed guy: retired community college teacher,
      carpenter, husband, father of two, rank-and-file peace
      activist. Turning 62, his hair is gone white, the
      paunch protrudes, but the blue eyes are observant. All
      in all, laid back but present.
      
      This is the same Mark Rudd I met in the heat of the
      1968 Columbia University student strike, the Mark Rudd
      who ended a letter to Grayson Kirk, Columbia's
      president, by declaring, "Up against the wall,
      motherfucker!-, the Mark Rudd who proudly led Students
      for a Democratic Society to close its offices and end
      its organizing efforts in the midst of the greatest
      student rebellion of the 20th century, the same Mark
      Rudd who went underground and supported a plan to bomb
      Fort Dix, which went awry and killed three of his
      friends-all by the time he was 22 years old.
      
      Rudd struggles to reconcile these two selves,
      representing two eras, in his memoir, "Underground: My
      Life with SDS and the Weathermen,- an important
      contribution to a growing collection of narratives from
      former participants in the revolutionary 1960s'
      underground. Other recent works include Bill Ayers'
      "Fugitive Days,- Cathy Wilkerson's "Flying Close to the
      Sun,- Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, and Jeff Jones'
      "Sing a Battle Song,- David Gilbert's "No Surrender,-
      Leslie Brody's "Red Star Sister,- Roxanne Dunbar's
      "Outlaw Woman,- and the 2002 Oscar-nominated
      documentary "The Weather Underground.- The saga is
      turned into fiction as well in Dana Spiotta's "Eat the
      Document.-  Other novels that mine the same or similar
      terrain include Heinrich Boll's classic "The Lost Honor
      of Katharina Blum,- Susan Choi's "American Woman,- and
      Neil Gordon's "The Company You Keep.- No doubt there
      will be more.
      
      That may be more books than those devoted to such
      organizations as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
      Committee or the Students for a Democratic Society, not
      to mention community organizing or the farmworkers'
      movement of those years,  and the genre is likely to
      grow, revealing an abiding fascination with the
      question of why it was that some peaceful dissenters
      turned to violence so suddenly in the late '60s. The
      Weather Underground took credit for 24 bombings
      altogether and, according to federal sources, there
      were additionally several thousand acts of violence
      during the same years.  In 1969-70 alone, there were
      more than 550 fraggings by soldiers, according to one
      authoritative historian of the Vietnam War.
      
      The fascination with such violence is not new. Similar
      themes can be found in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 19th-
      century novel about young Russian nihilists, "The
      Possessed,-  in Joseph Conrad's "Under Western Eyes,-
      Henry James' "The Princess Casamassima,- Andre
      Malraux's tale of the Shanghai uprising, "Man's Fate,-
      and, of course, Ernest Hemingway's stories of the
      Spanish civil war.
      
      What explains the enduring interest in such radicals?
      I believe it has something to do with exploring the
      extremes of personal commitment. To fail heroically,
      though miserably, is seen by many as attaining a
      greater glory than the rewards to be had from the
      mundane life of patient political work. As Karl Marx
      wrote of the Paris Commune, the French Communards at
      least had stormed the heavens. And as Rudd quotes Erich
      Fromm quoting Nietzsche, "There are times when anyone
      who does not lose his mind has no mind to lose.-
      
      Fiction may be a better vehicle than autobiography or
      history for ascertaining the truth in clandestine
      histories where the secret lives of others are at legal
      risk. In Rudd's self-description, he is far from
      heroic, but more like a confused young man from the
      Jersey suburbs staggering out of a novel by Philip
      Roth, either "American Pastoral- or "I Married a
      Communist.-
      
      There is an unconsciousness in Rudd's memory of
      himself, a kind of bumbling innocence that will
      disappoint a reader seeking more. When, for example,
      the milling students at Columbia sought tactical
      direction, Rudd writes: "I had only the vaguest idea of
      what we were doing.- When Rudd is told by a comrade
      that his demonstration is out of control, he replies,
      "I know. I have no idea what to do.- When Rudd calls
      for taking a hostage, he says, "I meant a building,-
      not an administrator. But then he supports taking Dean
      Henry Coleman hostage, yelling: "Now we've got the man
      where we want him! He can't leave unless he gives in to
      some of our demands.- When the media selects him as the
      new revolutionary symbol, he remembers a "gnawing sense
      that I was in over my head.-
      
      Some of this is funny, as for example when Rudd calls
      his father in Maplewood, N.J.,  to say "We took a
      building- and the old man replies, "Well, give it
      back.-
      
      But most of what Rudd tells is deeply disturbing,
      though illuminating, in its unemotional matter-of-
      factness. In describing the Weather Underground as a
      cult, Rudd writes: "I knew that the whole thing was
      nuts but couldn't intervene to stop it. . I believed as
      much as anyone else, perhaps more so, in the need to
      harden ourselves through group criticism.- Feeling
      "addled,- he agrees to take a break from the national
      leadership and accept demotion to its New York
      collective. He is unable to tell us exactly why,
      writing only that he was experiencing "the competitive
      world of the Weatherman hierarchy from the underside
      now.- Yet he "couldn't allow my conscious mind even a
      tiny doubt as to the direction of the organization.-
      
      The mindset becomes lethal. Rudd "assented to the Fort
      Dix plan when Terry [Robbins] told me about it.- He
      dropped off Robbins, one of the architects of the plan,
      at the West 11th Street townhouse in Manhattan two days
      before the bomb Robbins was assembling would
      accidentally go off, demolishing the site. Rudd spent
      March 6 at a friend's house in New Jersey "to establish
      an alibi,- then watched "Zabriskie Point,- the
      Michelangelo Antonioni film in which a fancy bourgeois
      house is blown up.  All this while three of his
      comrades were being killed by the bombs they intended
      for the noncommissioned officers, which would have
      included their dates, wives, and others, too, of Fort
      Dix.
      
      Rudd, by his own account, often seems to be under the
      spell of charismatic, authoritarian leadership,
      vulnerable to the most fanatic of the fanatics, severed
      from his realities of only two years before. After the
      townhouse bombing, he meets a few weeks later with John
      Jacobs, known as JJ, an old friend from Columbia and
      the charismatic leader of the New York Weather faction,
      who wanted to kill soldiers and noncombatants. Rudd,
      who says he was befuddled, agreed to support JJ's
      newest ideas: blowing up a B-52 on the ground, knocking
      out a government computer, or considering a "selective-
      assassination or kidnapping. Then he joins JJ in bed
      with a married woman who'd given Rudd a place to hide.
      He enjoys the "intense excitement at the thought that
      my semen was mixing with JJ's inside a woman.- Later he
      tells the woman's husband that "women's liberation
      shouldn't threaten him.-
      
      book cover
      
      Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen
      
      By Mark Rudd
      
      William Morrow, 336 pages
      
      Buy the book
      
      There is much more, some of it extremely explosive,
      though unprovable, such as Rudd's assertion that JJ was
      a willing scapegoat for the entire Weather leadership
      that approved, or, at the least, did not oppose, the
      Fort Dix plan. But recounting any more of Rudd's story
      here will bring no more revelation, only a kind of
      nausea. Rudd in these pages resembles the Roth
      character who says, "Eve didn't marry a communist, she
      married someone who couldn't find his life.-
      
      Yet I know Mark Rudd to be a good man, a useful person
      despite all this, and one must ask, how can that
      possibly be? Partly it is because I believe individuals
      are capable of surprising changes. I have befriended,
      and worked with, numerous people who have inflicted
      enormous damage on themselves, their loved ones, and
      society at some stage in their past lives. They include
      strung-out returning soldiers, prison inmates, former
      gang members, addicts, suicidal personalities of all
      kinds. Some of them have killed people. They have done
      unspeakable things but are not incorrigible. As the
      woman character says in Bernard Malamud's "The
      Natural,- "We have two lives . the life we learn with
      and the life we live after that. Suffering is what
      brings us towards happiness.-
      
      I don't know if Mark Rudd will or even should be happy,
      but he is living a life of amends. In this book, he
      takes responsibility for "the destruction of SDS [as]
      probably the greatest single mistake of my life [and
      I've made quite a few] . a historical crime.- In
      speaking to young people, he can vividly describe the
      difference between radicalism and fanaticism, and the
      moral, emotional and political costs of the latter. He
      can confide that the best of us are capable of the
      worst. His wounds are gifts; he becomes a character in
      one of those Scared Straight performances, an important
      signifier for the next generation. And he continues
      working humbly, patiently and energetically as a rank-
      and-file activist.
      
      There is a larger reason for trying to understand a
      Mark Rudd. He was only an inflated individual symbol of
      many young people around the world who took up weapons,
      or dreamt of taking up weapons, or went underground, or
      dreamt of going underground, or sheltered people
      underground, or dreamt of sheltering people
      underground, in the years between 1966 and 1975. During
      the same short period, less than a decade, there were
      more than 100 violent rebellions in American cities.
      Hundreds of campuses were shut down. The murders of the
      Kennedys and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. seemed to
      confirm, on a deep existential level, that peaceful
      change was impossible. The greatest flare-up of urban
      violence in America followed Dr. King's death on April
      4, 1968, two weeks before Columbia and six months
      before the formation of the Weathermen. It would take a
      contortionist to reduce this collective rebellion to
      Freudian categories reserved for individual diagnoses,
      or to forms of mass psychosis like Eric Hoffer's notion
      of true believers. This massive cohort of mutinous and
      violent young people within the '60s generation is
      little researched or remembered in mainstream culture.
      They were young, educated, and mostly lived in
      societies with civil liberties and elections.
      
      In Latin America, other young people, struggling often
      in dictatorial societies, participated in at least 20
      guerrilla insurgencies modeled after the Cuban
      revolution, inspired by writers like Regis Debray and
      Carlos Marighella, the same authors studied by the
      Weathermen. Thousands were abducted, tortured,
      assassinated, disappeared. Though none of the Latin
      American movements, with the exception of Nicaragua,
      succeeded militarily, theirs was the generation that
      directly produced or influenced many leaders of today's
      successful democratic revolutions across the continent.
      It was revolutionaries from Mexico City's 1968 massacre
      of students, for example, who went on to create the
      Zapatistas.
      
      In Europe, formations like the Weathermen burst out in
      several countries. In Germany, at the time of the
      Columbia student strike, radical youth protesting civic
      apathy toward Vietnam set fire to a Frankfurt
      department store, on grounds that it was better to burn
      it down than to run one.  A well-known journalist,
      Ulrike Meinhoff, feeling that in her role as a
      columnist she was only a pressure relief valve, joined
      a violent underground group, was imprisoned with others
      and hung herself on May 8, 1976, the anniversary of the
      end of World War II. In its beginning phase, her Red
      Army Faction had the sympathy of one of every four
      Germans under 30, according to a 1971 survey. Her Red
      Army Faction, like Italy's Red Brigades or Japan's Red
      Army, was more violent by far than the Weather
      Underground, and would spiral into lethal destruction.
      
      Another example is the Irish Republican Army, revived
      in the late 1960s, which fought a 30-year war against
      England before signing the Good Friday Agreement in
      1998. And in Quebec, revolutionary nationalists carried
      out kidnappings and bombings. As with Latin America,
      many of the participants in these revolutionary
      currents evolved to hold political office or serve in
      prominent professions today.
      
      To my knowledge, no one has convincingly explained how
      all these events took place concurrently and with
      little coordination, or how so many middle-class young
      people chose violence as a moral and political
      necessity. The Paris revolutionaries of May 1968, for
      example, sent the striking Columbia students a telegram
      saying, "We've occupied a building in your honor. What
      do we do now?- In Rudd's book, he typically writes that
      "I don't remember our answer.- In Derry, Northern
      Ireland, the slogan "Free Derry- was adopted from "Free
      Berkeley.-
      
      There is a logical sequence from protest to resistance
      in the late 1960s. Protest assumed the authorities were
      listening, while resistance meant their institutions
      had to be disrupted, forcing them to pay a price.
      Resistance at first meant street battles with police,
      occupying buildings, burning draft cards, attempts to
      stop business as usual, and then gradually the
      beginnings of destroying property. It seems clear that
      the resistance escalated as the authorities chose to
      escalate an unpopular Vietnam War, or continue
      supporting dictatorships like the Shah's in Iran, in
      utter disregard for public opinion, petitions and
      peaceful protest.  People were dying every day, on
      television, making a moral mockery of appeals for
      gradual change. It is clear, however, that the moves
      from protest to resistance, and from there to
      underground revolutionary action, took place as
      necessary reforms were rejected by the authorities
      while wars like Vietnam and dictatorships like the
      Shah's seemed to rage beyond democracy's reach. For
      example, street violence escalated decisively in
      Germany after the shooting of student leader Rudi
      Dutschke. Perhaps the advent of a televised war,
      combined with repression by police and the impatient
      inexperience of youth, caused the rapid escalations
      toward violence. I often wonder whether the propensity
      toward violence was greatest in the Western countries
      or communities that suffered fascism in the previous
      generation, like Germany, Italy and Japan. Even in
      America,  Rudd, who was born two years after World War
      II ended, grew up wondering whether he would have bowed
      in the face of such evil.
      
      The sudden subsidence of this violence in the mid-1970s
      also points to a sociological, rather than a
      pathological, explanation of its nature. The end of the
      Vietnam War, the forced resignation of Richard Nixon
      from the Oval Office, the U.S. rapprochement with
      China, the new openings for voter participation inside
      the political system, all contributed to a sharp
      abatement of the revolutionary fevers of the 1968-73
      period.
      
      Ironically, the Justice Department dropped federal
      charges against Rudd and the Weather Underground for
      fear of revealing their undercover techniques, and in
      1978 federal prosecutors actually brought charges
      against the FBI for their Weathermen probes. One might
      even say, as the rhetoricians of the Weather
      Underground might have put it, that white-skin
      privilege helped to exonerate Mark Rudd. Or, more
      importantly and fundamentally, to put it another way,
      public opinion caught up with the radicalism of the
      1960s-on issues like Vietnam and Watergate-at the very
      moment that the revolutionaries had given up on public
      opinion in order to go underground.
      
      As the research and writings of James Gilligan
      demonstrate, violence is more situational than innate.
      Violence and shame are closely connected. The
      acceleration to violent behavior can be breathtaking.
      The violence of the young signals a dysfunction of the
      elders, not a nihilist seed.  As John F. Kennedy
      famously said, those who make peaceful change
      impossible make violent revolution inevitable.
      
      Now we have chosen a president, Barack Obama, who has
      known some of the Weather Underground veterans in their
      later incarnations. If he had been born 20 years
      earlier, Obama too might have given up on community
      organizing and become a black militant. The question he
      and the rest of us face today is whether we as a nation
      are prepared to act rapidly and deeply enough to
      prevent the conditions that provoke avoidable violence
      in a new generation yearning for substantial change.
      That's the question a reading of Rudd's book should
      make us ponder.
      
      _________________
      
      Tom Hayden, a founder of Students for Democratic
      Society (SDS) in 1962 and principal author of "The Port
      Huron Statement,- is a former longtime California
      legislator, serving in both the state Assembly and the
      state Senate. He is the author of many books, including
      the forthcoming "The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack
      Obama,- "The Newark Rebellion,- "The Trial,- "The Love
      of Possession Is a Disease With Them,- "Street Wars,-
      "The Lost Gospel of the Earth,- "Ending the War in
      Iraq,- and, most recently, "Writings for a Democratic
      Society: The Tom Hayden Reader.- book cover
      
      A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor,
      Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman. Copyright c
      2009 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved. Web site
      development by Hop Studios | Hosted by NEXCESS.NET
      

    • Meredith Sue Willis
      Thanks for the link to the Hayden piece-- information. But I don t think he mentions-- did I skim too fast?-- that he, Tom, was in Math Building at Columbia?
      Message 2 of 10 , May 10, 2009
        Thanks for the link to the Hayden piece-- information.  But I don't think he mentions-- did I skim too fast?-- that he, Tom, was in Math Building at Columbia?
                         MSW



        On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 10:10 PM, <a.gronowicz@...> wrote:
        Tom Hayden on Mark Rudd
        
        Truthdig
        May 8, 2009
        
        http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/20090507_tom_hayden_on_mark_rudd/
        
        By Tom Hayden
        
        Don't go around tonight, Well it's bound to take your
        life, There's a bad moon on the rise.
        
                              -Creedence Clearwater Revival,
                      1969
        
        The truth was obscure, too profound and too pure, To
        love it you have to explode.
        
                              -Bob Dylan, 1978
        
        Anyone meeting Mark Rudd today would think him a nice
        level-headed guy: retired community college teacher,
        carpenter, husband, father of two, rank-and-file peace
        activist. Turning 62, his hair is gone white, the
        paunch protrudes, but the blue eyes are observant. All
        in all, laid back but present.
        
        This is the same Mark Rudd I met in the heat of the
        1968 Columbia University student strike, the Mark Rudd
        who ended a letter to Grayson Kirk, Columbia's
        president, by declaring, "Up against the wall,
        motherfucker!-, the Mark Rudd who proudly led Students
        for a Democratic Society to close its offices and end
        its organizing efforts in the midst of the greatest
        student rebellion of the 20th century, the same Mark
        Rudd who went underground and supported a plan to bomb
        Fort Dix, which went awry and killed three of his
        friends-all by the time he was 22 years old.
        
        Rudd struggles to reconcile these two selves,
        representing two eras, in his memoir, "Underground: My
        Life with SDS and the Weathermen,- an important
        contribution to a growing collection of narratives from
        former participants in the revolutionary 1960s'
        underground. Other recent works include Bill Ayers'
        "Fugitive Days,- Cathy Wilkerson's "Flying Close to the
        Sun,- Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, and Jeff Jones'
        "Sing a Battle Song,- David Gilbert's "No Surrender,-
        Leslie Brody's "Red Star Sister,- Roxanne Dunbar's
        "Outlaw Woman,- and the 2002 Oscar-nominated
        documentary "The Weather Underground.- The saga is
        turned into fiction as well in Dana Spiotta's "Eat the
        Document.-  Other novels that mine the same or similar
        terrain include Heinrich Boll's classic "The Lost Honor
        of Katharina Blum,- Susan Choi's "American Woman,- and
        Neil Gordon's "The Company You Keep.- No doubt there
        will be more.
        
        That may be more books than those devoted to such
        organizations as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
        Committee or the Students for a Democratic Society, not
        to mention community organizing or the farmworkers'
        movement of those years,  and the genre is likely to
        grow, revealing an abiding fascination with the
        question of why it was that some peaceful dissenters
        turned to violence so suddenly in the late '60s. The
        Weather Underground took credit for 24 bombings
        altogether and, according to federal sources, there
        were additionally several thousand acts of violence
        during the same years.  In 1969-70 alone, there were
        more than 550 fraggings by soldiers, according to one
        authoritative historian of the Vietnam War.
        
        The fascination with such violence is not new. Similar
        themes can be found in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 19th-
        century novel about young Russian nihilists, "The
        Possessed,-  in Joseph Conrad's "Under Western Eyes,-
        Henry James' "The Princess Casamassima,- Andre
        Malraux's tale of the Shanghai uprising, "Man's Fate,-
        and, of course, Ernest Hemingway's stories of the
        Spanish civil war.
        
        What explains the enduring interest in such radicals?
        I believe it has something to do with exploring the
        extremes of personal commitment. To fail heroically,
        though miserably, is seen by many as attaining a
        greater glory than the rewards to be had from the
        mundane life of patient political work. As Karl Marx
        wrote of the Paris Commune, the French Communards at
        least had stormed the heavens. And as Rudd quotes Erich
        Fromm quoting Nietzsche, "There are times when anyone
        who does not lose his mind has no mind to lose.-
        
        Fiction may be a better vehicle than autobiography or
        history for ascertaining the truth in clandestine
        histories where the secret lives of others are at legal
        risk. In Rudd's self-description, he is far from
        heroic, but more like a confused young man from the
        Jersey suburbs staggering out of a novel by Philip
        Roth, either "American Pastoral- or "I Married a
        Communist.-
        
        There is an unconsciousness in Rudd's memory of
        himself, a kind of bumbling innocence that will
        disappoint a reader seeking more. When, for example,
        the milling students at Columbia sought tactical
        direction, Rudd writes: "I had only the vaguest idea of
        what we were doing.- When Rudd is told by a comrade
        that his demonstration is out of control, he replies,
        "I know. I have no idea what to do.- When Rudd calls
        for taking a hostage, he says, "I meant a building,-
        not an administrator. But then he supports taking Dean
        Henry Coleman hostage, yelling: "Now we've got the man
        where we want him! He can't leave unless he gives in to
        some of our demands.- When the media selects him as the
        new revolutionary symbol, he remembers a "gnawing sense
        that I was in over my head.-
        
        Some of this is funny, as for example when Rudd calls
        his father in Maplewood, N.J.,  to say "We took a
        building- and the old man replies, "Well, give it
        back.-
        
        But most of what Rudd tells is deeply disturbing,
        though illuminating, in its unemotional matter-of-
        factness. In describing the Weather Underground as a
        cult, Rudd writes: "I knew that the whole thing was
        nuts but couldn't intervene to stop it. . I believed as
        much as anyone else, perhaps more so, in the need to
        harden ourselves through group criticism.- Feeling
        "addled,- he agrees to take a break from the national
        leadership and accept demotion to its New York
        collective. He is unable to tell us exactly why,
        writing only that he was experiencing "the competitive
        world of the Weatherman hierarchy from the underside
        now.- Yet he "couldn't allow my conscious mind even a
        tiny doubt as to the direction of the organization.-
        
        The mindset becomes lethal. Rudd "assented to the Fort
        Dix plan when Terry [Robbins] told me about it.- He
        dropped off Robbins, one of the architects of the plan,
        at the West 11th Street townhouse in Manhattan two days
        before the bomb Robbins was assembling would
        accidentally go off, demolishing the site. Rudd spent
        March 6 at a friend's house in New Jersey "to establish
        an alibi,- then watched "Zabriskie Point,- the
        Michelangelo Antonioni film in which a fancy bourgeois
        house is blown up.  All this while three of his
        comrades were being killed by the bombs they intended
        for the noncommissioned officers, which would have
        included their dates, wives, and others, too, of Fort
        Dix.
        
        Rudd, by his own account, often seems to be under the
        spell of charismatic, authoritarian leadership,
        vulnerable to the most fanatic of the fanatics, severed
        from his realities of only two years before. After the
        townhouse bombing, he meets a few weeks later with John
        Jacobs, known as JJ, an old friend from Columbia and
        the charismatic leader of the New York Weather faction,
        who wanted to kill soldiers and noncombatants. Rudd,
        who says he was befuddled, agreed to support JJ's
        newest ideas: blowing up a B-52 on the ground, knocking
        out a government computer, or considering a "selective-
        assassination or kidnapping. Then he joins JJ in bed
        with a married woman who'd given Rudd a place to hide.
        He enjoys the "intense excitement at the thought that
        my semen was mixing with JJ's inside a woman.- Later he
        tells the woman's husband that "women's liberation
        shouldn't threaten him.-
        
        book cover
        
        Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen
        
        By Mark Rudd
        
        William Morrow, 336 pages
        
        Buy the book
        
        There is much more, some of it extremely explosive,
        though unprovable, such as Rudd's assertion that JJ was
        a willing scapegoat for the entire Weather leadership
        that approved, or, at the least, did not oppose, the
        Fort Dix plan. But recounting any more of Rudd's story
        here will bring no more revelation, only a kind of
        nausea. Rudd in these pages resembles the Roth
        character who says, "Eve didn't marry a communist, she
        married someone who couldn't find his life.-
        
        Yet I know Mark Rudd to be a good man, a useful person
        despite all this, and one must ask, how can that
        possibly be? Partly it is because I believe individuals
        are capable of surprising changes. I have befriended,
        and worked with, numerous people who have inflicted
        enormous damage on themselves, their loved ones, and
        society at some stage in their past lives. They include
        strung-out returning soldiers, prison inmates, former
        gang members, addicts, suicidal personalities of all
        kinds. Some of them have killed people. They have done
        unspeakable things but are not incorrigible. As the
        woman character says in Bernard Malamud's "The
        Natural,- "We have two lives . the life we learn with
        and the life we live after that. Suffering is what
        brings us towards happiness.-
        
        I don't know if Mark Rudd will or even should be happy,
        but he is living a life of amends. In this book, he
        takes responsibility for "the destruction of SDS [as]
        probably the greatest single mistake of my life [and
        I've made quite a few] . a historical crime.- In
        speaking to young people, he can vividly describe the
        difference between radicalism and fanaticism, and the
        moral, emotional and political costs of the latter. He
        can confide that the best of us are capable of the
        worst. His wounds are gifts; he becomes a character in
        one of those Scared Straight performances, an important
        signifier for the next generation. And he continues
        working humbly, patiently and energetically as a rank-
        and-file activist.
        
        There is a larger reason for trying to understand a
        Mark Rudd. He was only an inflated individual symbol of
        many young people around the world who took up weapons,
        or dreamt of taking up weapons, or went underground, or
        dreamt of going underground, or sheltered people
        underground, or dreamt of sheltering people
        underground, in the years between 1966 and 1975. During
        the same short period, less than a decade, there were
        more than 100 violent rebellions in American cities.
        Hundreds of campuses were shut down. The murders of the
        Kennedys and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. seemed to
        confirm, on a deep existential level, that peaceful
        change was impossible. The greatest flare-up of urban
        violence in America followed Dr. King's death on April
        4, 1968, two weeks before Columbia and six months
        before the formation of the Weathermen. It would take a
        contortionist to reduce this collective rebellion to
        Freudian categories reserved for individual diagnoses,
        or to forms of mass psychosis like Eric Hoffer's notion
        of true believers. This massive cohort of mutinous and
        violent young people within the '60s generation is
        little researched or remembered in mainstream culture.
        They were young, educated, and mostly lived in
        societies with civil liberties and elections.
        
        In Latin America, other young people, struggling often
        in dictatorial societies, participated in at least 20
        guerrilla insurgencies modeled after the Cuban
        revolution, inspired by writers like Regis Debray and
        Carlos Marighella, the same authors studied by the
        Weathermen. Thousands were abducted, tortured,
        assassinated, disappeared. Though none of the Latin
        American movements, with the exception of Nicaragua,
        succeeded militarily, theirs was the generation that
        directly produced or influenced many leaders of today's
        successful democratic revolutions across the continent.
        It was revolutionaries from Mexico City's 1968 massacre
        of students, for example, who went on to create the
        Zapatistas.
        
        In Europe, formations like the Weathermen burst out in
        several countries. In Germany, at the time of the
        Columbia student strike, radical youth protesting civic
        apathy toward Vietnam set fire to a Frankfurt
        department store, on grounds that it was better to burn
        it down than to run one.  A well-known journalist,
        Ulrike Meinhoff, feeling that in her role as a
        columnist she was only a pressure relief valve, joined
        a violent underground group, was imprisoned with others
        and hung herself on May 8, 1976, the anniversary of the
        end of World War II. In its beginning phase, her Red
        Army Faction had the sympathy of one of every four
        Germans under 30, according to a 1971 survey. Her Red
        Army Faction, like Italy's Red Brigades or Japan's Red
        Army, was more violent by far than the Weather
        Underground, and would spiral into lethal destruction.
        
        Another example is the Irish Republican Army, revived
        in the late 1960s, which fought a 30-year war against
        England before signing the Good Friday Agreement in
        1998. And in Quebec, revolutionary nationalists carried
        out kidnappings and bombings. As with Latin America,
        many of the participants in these revolutionary
        currents evolved to hold political office or serve in
        prominent professions today.
        
        To my knowledge, no one has convincingly explained how
        all these events took place concurrently and with
        little coordination, or how so many middle-class young
        people chose violence as a moral and political
        necessity. The Paris revolutionaries of May 1968, for
        example, sent the striking Columbia students a telegram
        saying, "We've occupied a building in your honor. What
        do we do now?- In Rudd's book, he typically writes that
        "I don't remember our answer.- In Derry, Northern
        Ireland, the slogan "Free Derry- was adopted from "Free
        Berkeley.-
        
        There is a logical sequence from protest to resistance
        in the late 1960s. Protest assumed the authorities were
        listening, while resistance meant their institutions
        had to be disrupted, forcing them to pay a price.
        Resistance at first meant street battles with police,
        occupying buildings, burning draft cards, attempts to
        stop business as usual, and then gradually the
        beginnings of destroying property. It seems clear that
        the resistance escalated as the authorities chose to
        escalate an unpopular Vietnam War, or continue
        supporting dictatorships like the Shah's in Iran, in
        utter disregard for public opinion, petitions and
        peaceful protest.  People were dying every day, on
        television, making a moral mockery of appeals for
        gradual change. It is clear, however, that the moves
        from protest to resistance, and from there to
        underground revolutionary action, took place as
        necessary reforms were rejected by the authorities
        while wars like Vietnam and dictatorships like the
        Shah's seemed to rage beyond democracy's reach. For
        example, street violence escalated decisively in
        Germany after the shooting of student leader Rudi
        Dutschke. Perhaps the advent of a televised war,
        combined with repression by police and the impatient
        inexperience of youth, caused the rapid escalations
        toward violence. I often wonder whether the propensity
        toward violence was greatest in the Western countries
        or communities that suffered fascism in the previous
        generation, like Germany, Italy and Japan. Even in
        America,  Rudd, who was born two years after World War
        II ended, grew up wondering whether he would have bowed
        in the face of such evil.
        
        The sudden subsidence of this violence in the mid-1970s
        also points to a sociological, rather than a
        pathological, explanation of its nature. The end of the
        Vietnam War, the forced resignation of Richard Nixon
        from the Oval Office, the U.S. rapprochement with
        China, the new openings for voter participation inside
        the political system, all contributed to a sharp
        abatement of the revolutionary fevers of the 1968-73
        period.
        
        Ironically, the Justice Department dropped federal
        charges against Rudd and the Weather Underground for
        fear of revealing their undercover techniques, and in
        1978 federal prosecutors actually brought charges
        against the FBI for their Weathermen probes. One might
        even say, as the rhetoricians of the Weather
        Underground might have put it, that white-skin
        privilege helped to exonerate Mark Rudd. Or, more
        importantly and fundamentally, to put it another way,
        public opinion caught up with the radicalism of the
        1960s-on issues like Vietnam and Watergate-at the very
        moment that the revolutionaries had given up on public
        opinion in order to go underground.
        
        As the research and writings of James Gilligan
        demonstrate, violence is more situational than innate.
        Violence and shame are closely connected. The
        acceleration to violent behavior can be breathtaking.
        The violence of the young signals a dysfunction of the
        elders, not a nihilist seed.  As John F. Kennedy
        famously said, those who make peaceful change
        impossible make violent revolution inevitable.
        
        Now we have chosen a president, Barack Obama, who has
        known some of the Weather Underground veterans in their
        later incarnations. If he had been born 20 years
        earlier, Obama too might have given up on community
        organizing and become a black militant. The question he
        and the rest of us face today is whether we as a nation
        are prepared to act rapidly and deeply enough to
        prevent the conditions that provoke avoidable violence
        in a new generation yearning for substantial change.
        That's the question a reading of Rudd's book should
        make us ponder.
        
        _________________
        
        Tom Hayden, a founder of Students for Democratic
        Society (SDS) in 1962 and principal author of "The Port
        Huron Statement,- is a former longtime California
        legislator, serving in both the state Assembly and the
        state Senate. He is the author of many books, including
        the forthcoming "The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack
        Obama,- "The Newark Rebellion,- "The Trial,- "The Love
        of Possession Is a Disease With Them,- "Street Wars,-
        "The Lost Gospel of the Earth,- "Ending the War in
        Iraq,- and, most recently, "Writings for a Democratic
        Society: The Tom Hayden Reader.- book cover
        
        A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor,
        Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman. Copyright c
        2009 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved. Web site
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      • Kathy Seal
        You re right Meredith - Hayden doesn t mention chairing the Math commune. A little weird not to! Maybe he is concentrating on being a historian and writing
        Message 3 of 10 , May 10, 2009
          You're right Meredith - Hayden doesn't mention chairing the Math commune. A little weird not to! Maybe he is concentrating on being a historian and writing "objectively" in the third person only.

          Kathy

          --

          Kathy Seal
          310-452-2769
          Coauthor, Pressured Parents, Stressed-out Kids: Dealing With Competition While Raising a Successful Child  
          WEBSITES: www.kathyseal.net &  www.pressuredparents.com  
          BLOGGING at http://pressuredparents.wordpress.com/
          TWITTER: http://twitter.com/kathyseal

        • Jeffrey Sokolow
          Hayden arrived on campus while we were in Hamilton, some time on the first afternoon or early evening. I recognized him from a picture and he came up to me (I
          Message 4 of 10 , May 10, 2009
            Hayden arrived on campus while we were in Hamilton, some time on the first afternoon or early evening. I recognized him from a picture and he came up to me (I was wearing an SDS button) and asked, "Where's Mark Rudd?" I told him Mark was upstairs meeting with the initial steering committee and he went his way. Someone else will have to take it from there.

            --- In CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com, Kathy Seal <kathyseal@...> wrote:
            >
            > You're right Meredith - Hayden doesn't mention chairing the Math commune. A
            > little weird not to! Maybe he is concentrating on being a historian and
            > writing "objectively" in the third person only.
            >
            > Kathy
            >
            > --
            >
            > Kathy Seal
            > 310-452-2769
            > Coauthor, Pressured Parents, Stressed-out Kids: Dealing With Competition
            > While Raising a Successful Child
            > WEBSITES: www.kathyseal.net & www.pressuredparents.com
            > BLOGGING at http://pressuredparents.wordpress.com/
            > TWITTER: http://twitter.com/kathyseal
            >
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