Swans Commentary » swans.com June 2, 2008  



Special Convention Fever Issue -- Chicago '68


Then, Now, And Tomorrow


by Martin Murie





(Swans - June 2, 2008)   I did not go to the Chicago convention in 1968 because we were already dealing with the wholesale arrest of activist students in Cincinnati. The community was in quite an uproar, town and gown both. One eyewitness described a cop dragging a student, the student's head bouncing on the steps.

John White, earth sciences, and I, biology, decided we had to be on hand at "home base," as stand-by help. Later, a biology major told me a cop chased him. When he sought refuge in an open manhole the cop beat him on his hands. "Turned me radical," he said.

Looking back, and forward, we see that in '68 there were vibrant youth rebellions, civil rights upheavals, and feminist actions intersecting the antiwar movement. Experimental activism of all sorts; that's the way movements are made, learn as we go. Today, as we approach the Democrats' Convention, the contrasts with '68 are enormous. I don't have to go into that; we all know the trends, the awesome facts.

However, after the '68 Convention the war in Vietnam continued, and became even more murderous and toxic. Today, approaching another convention, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, becoming more murderous and toxic. In both eras we were, and are, driven into box canyons by the electoral system and by the weakness of those we elected to represent us at the center.

We are reduced, once more, to choosing the lesser of evils. Suppose we, for once, abandon that counsel of despair. One way out of a box canyon is to find ledges and handholds and footholds: People Power, the Art of the Politically Impossible. Let's do it, build a movement that can act like a pry bar at the convention, and in November. Then, let's keep it going through the dark days of December and on into 2009, gathering as we go.

Footholds, handholds, ledges. These can be nation-saving structures; they can be reconsiderations of everything we once thought a firm grounding for a life philosophy. I don't mean the infantile calls for "change" spouted by the presidential candidates and the media hangers-on. What we urgently require, each of us, in her or his own way, of course, is a grounding on actual "dark earth." From there we can look across barbed wire barriers topped with razor wire that binds us.


· · · · · ·


If you find our work useful and appreciate its quality, please consider
making a donation. Money is spent to pay for Internet costs, maintenance
and upgrade of our computer network, and development of the site.

· · · · · ·


Internal Resources

Special Issues

Patterns which Connect

US Elections & Democracy

Activism under the Radar Screen


About the Author

Martin Murie on Swans (with bio).



Please, feel free to insert a link to this work on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary. However, please DO NOT steal, scavenge, or repost this work on the Web or any electronic media. Inlining, mirroring, and framing are expressly prohibited. Pulp re-publishing is welcome -- please contact the publisher. This material is copyrighted, © Martin Murie 2008. All rights reserved.


Have your say

Do you wish to share your opinion? We invite your comments. E-mail the Editor. Please include your full name, address and phone number (the city, state/country where you reside is paramount information). When/if we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country.


· · · · · ·


This Edition's Internal Links

The Democratic Convention -- Chicago 1968 - Art Shay

Art Shay's Traces Of A Bygone America - Karen Moller

Big Dumpling's Shock And Awe: Mayor Daley's Chicago - Peter Byrne

The Chicago Conspiracy - Irving Wardle

Expats' Chicago: London, 1968 - Charles Marowitz

Whatever Became Of What's-His-Name, The Radical? - Louis Proyect

Three Memories of Chicago 1968 - Michael Doliner

My Mere View Of The Year 1968 - Carol Warner Christen

Norman Mailer, A Noncombatant At The Siege - Peter Byrne

Fragments Of 1968 - Pier Paolo Pasolini (translated by Guido Monte)

Exercises In Nostalgia -- 1968 - Gilles d'Aymery

Letters to the Editor

· · · · · ·


[About]-[Past Issues]-[Archives]-[Resources]-[Copyright]



Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art14/murie52.html
Published June 2, 2008