It Takes a Village

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

We have within our ranks Communists of both varieties, socialists
of all sorts, 3 or 4 different kinds of anarchists, anarchosyndicalists,
syndicalists, social democrats, humanist liberals, a growing number
of ex-YAF libertarian laissez-faire capitalists, and, of course,
the articulate vanguard of the psychedelic liberation front.

– Carl Davidson, SDS vice-president, 1967

We can only stand in awe and admiration at the clear-sightedness,
the gallantry, and the astonishing courage of the kids of SDS.
But where, for the sake of all that is holy, are the adults?
Must we always endure an America where the adults abandon
their youthful radical vision in exchange for a comfortable and
even prestigious seat at the trough? Are there none to dare,
and dare mightily? If we had adults with one-tenth of the
courage of SDS, we would be well on the way to achieving
that free society that America always boasts of being.

– Murray Rothbard, 1967

Almost from its inception, SDS was the heart and soul of the
New Left, the bearer and carrier of its best libertarian and
revolutionary instincts. … [The New Left] created the most
intense, the most notable, and the most far-flung anti-war
movement in the history of protest against American imperial
wars. The New Left anti-war movement was begun by SDS
in early 1965, and spread to almost an entire generation,
and beyond. It succeeded in toppling an American President,
and in forcing a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam.
It managed to use that war, furthermore, to bring a
consciousness of the imperialist nature of American foreign
policy to millions of people. And it also managed to use the
war to radicalize countless numbers of Americans, to reveal
the imperial corporate state nature of the American system.

– Murray Rothbard, 1970

The schedule for next week’s MDS-Inc conference in Greenwich Village is now (finally) available online here.

SDS MDS-Inc is the corporate face of Movement for a Democratic Society, which in turn is the “old folks’ auxiliary” of the recently revived Students for a Democratic Society or SDS.

SDS was a leading force in the 1960s student rebellion against imperialism, corporatism, white supremacy, et hoc genus omne; and free-market anarchists were part of it from early on. Now SDS is back, in a political environment remarkably like that of the Vietnam era, and the prospects for reviving and extending the left/libertarian alliance (though for those of my ilk the goal is better described as a reunification than as an alliance) are looking better than they have at any time since ’69.

So I’ll be heading for the MDS conference on February 17th. (I’m also a nominee for the MDS-Inc board, so keep your fingers and toes crossed.)

Dare mightily!

Addendum, 2/13/07: An updated schedule is available here.

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0 Responses to It Takes a Village

  1. John W. Payne February 9, 2007 at 3:27 am #

    I’m glad you’re going and that you’re nominated for the board. I notice that Mark Rudd is also nominee, and I can’t help but hope he isn’t voted in. He did some pretty terrible things in the original SDS and later as a Weatherman that should prevent him from holding any position related to a revived SDS.

  2. Administrator February 9, 2007 at 12:40 pm #

    Well, I don’t know — if a former U.S. soldier, responsible (as many U.S. soldiers are) for unjust property damage and/or innocent deaths, were to turn antiwar and seek to join SDS, should he be barred? If not, why apply a harsher standard to former Weather folks?

  3. John W. Payne February 9, 2007 at 5:23 pm #

    Three points:

    1) Regarding your analogy to a former soldier, I think it depends on where he fell in the power structure and what he had done. So, for instance, if that soldier were Lt. William Calley, then he absolutely shouldn’t be part of any decent organization’s leadership. Now, Mark Rudd certainly never did anything nearly on par with the evil of the My Lai massacre, but he was the Weathermen’s leader and therefore bears more responsibility than other Weathermen.

    2) Also, although I condemn the violence the Weathermen perpetrated, I can understand it in an abstract way because it flowed from a certain moral position that viewed war against the United States as the only just route. Rudd’s actions, however, went well beyond that. According to Allen Matusow’s book “The Unraveling of America,” Rudd used Weatherman’s stance against monogamy as an excuse to essentially rape a female member of the group. (p. 340-341). I don’t think there can be any justification for that, and it should preclued him from serving on MDS’ board. (N.B. I realize this is a very serious accusation, and my claim is only as strong as my source, so I’d be perfectly willing to retract it if Matusow is shown to be wrong.”

    3) Finally, Rudd deserves a great deal of the blame for destroying the original SDS. Perhaps Rudd now regrets those mistakes (I think he does), but only he knows for sure, and I believe it is bad policy for any revived organization to raise to a leadership position anyone who helped destroy it once before.

  4. Administrator February 11, 2007 at 1:05 pm #

    Well, I don’t know enough about Rudd specifically to venture an opinion one way or the other. But on the more general question, I don’t think I want to accept the blanket principle that it’s “bad policy for any revived organization to raise to a leadership position anyone who helped destroy it once before.” Can’t that kind of symbolic reconciliation in some cases actually strengthen the organisation?

  5. Brad Spangler February 11, 2007 at 1:49 pm #

    FWIW, as a general observation, some of the wisest people have gotten that way by already having personally made most of the mistakes they now know to avoid.

  6. Rad Geek February 11, 2007 at 4:56 pm #

    For what it’s worth, the impression I got, at least from Mark Rudd’s account of himself in The Weather Underground, is that he is genuinely repentant and a lot more thoughtful and self-critical about his actions and his role in RYM and Weather than some of the other former Weathermen and Weatherwomen — Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and David Gilbert in particular — have been. I don’t know whether he’s a good or bad candidate for the MDS board — I’m not involved enough with SDS redevivus and don’t know enough about Rudd — but I don’t think it’s fair to rule him out simply on the basis of having once been involved with RYM and Weather, or on the basis of what other people who were once involved with RYM and Weather may be like.

    Unfortunately, Bernardine Dohrn is another one of the nominees to the MDS, Inc. board — something that I’m less than thrilled to see.

  7. Administrator February 12, 2007 at 6:33 pm #

    Some latter-day comments from Rudd here and here.

  8. Otto Kerner February 14, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    Wow, I just looked at the slate of nominees — I had no idea there were so many heavy hitters. I hope Mr. Long does get nominated … he’ll have the opportunity to rub elbows with the best and brightest of American leftwingery. And I hope the rest of the board includes some of the less unsavoury from among the socialists.

  9. Administrator February 21, 2007 at 7:17 pm #

    Update here.

    For what it’s worth, I thought Mark Rudd’s was the best speech of the whole conference. I feel pretty good about having him on the board.


  1. » Blog Archive » MDS, Inc. Conference - February 18, 2007

    […] I’ve just received word from Paul Buhle that the MDS, Inc. conference in New York yesterday went smoothly. Reportedly, all board nominees were confirmed, which would seem to include Roderick Long. MDS, Incorporated is the incorporated non-profit organizational face of Movement for a Democratic Society, which could be described as a companion organization to the revived Students for a Democratic Society. IT WAS REALLY GREAT and I’ll leave to others, and a few days, to pull together the details. […]

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