Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Weather Underground, power and privilege

Because of Bill Ayers of the former Weather Underground knows Obama's pastor the group has come back into the news, on the Left news as well as the mainstream. After David Lindorff on Counterpunch wrote an excellent short article about Bill Ayers, fellow Counterpuncher Daniel Cassidy replied with the frequently repeated charge that the Weather Underground represented the middle and upper classes and had no organic connection with the working class. After hearing this over and over my response has become "You mean as opposed to the rest of SDS?" SDS was founded on the most elite college campuses in the country, starting among other places at Harvard, being strong at Columbia, and present in the crown jewels of state university systems like the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley. There was so little connection between the student movement and the working class that several theorists tried to prove that the students were the new proletariat. Before the final days of SDS, when the idea of people setting up student-worker committees came into play, there was no presence whatsoever of SDS in working class communities at all, and as far as I know the members of SDS who came from more working class backgrounds didn't press their case as members of the working class. They remained students involved in college.

So suddenly there's a charge of a faction of SDS, which is what Weather started out as, was disconnected from the working class and contained a lot of people of middle and upper class backgrounds. It seems to me like it's the pot calling the kettle black, and possibly thinking up excuses for not buying into Weather's ideology and strategy besides those produced by honest criticism.

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