Saturday, September 12, 2009

And the MC5 from Detroit

Got the "Best of" from a shop in the area. Unlike many Best Ofs it's actually good, because the MC5 are still an underground band and it's being issued by Rhino and not the main part of a mainstream label. Very good stuff. It turns out that John Sinclair really meant all of that stuff about combining sex and dope with revolution. When I was growing up, the whole White Panthers stuff that I found out about seemed to me to be juvenile and not really profound at all, but now looking at it it seems kind of kindred to the Yippie party. And that's something that appears to be different from what it appeared to be as well. I'm not a fan of Abbie Hoffman, thinking that he was a show boating egotist, but the Yippie ideas presented by Jerry Rubin in his book "Do It!" are really good. Maybe with the White Panthers and Detroit there was more of an idea of social justice there, but they look like they're on the same track---combining social change with counter culture, politicizing the counter culture and, at least in the case of Jerry Rubin, counter-culture-izing the politicos. Which doesn't mean that their understanding of society and of social change was lacking.

I could say that a similar difference between the perception and reality exists with the Weathermen as well. First, when I encountered them, they were presented as insane, then, when I encountered them from books again they were presented as immature. Next, they were presented by people who knew them as being stupid rich kids indulging in militant fantasies. Then, after actually reading what they wrote at the time and books like "Fugitive Days", as well as"Outlaws of America" from AK Press by Dan about them....and hearing Bill Ayres talk about his experiences...my impression of what they were about changed drastically.

As far as being rich kids indulging in revolutionary fantasies, it appears that their theoretical orientation wasn't all that more hardcore than some of the other groups that fragmented from SDS, the difference being that unlike the others they engaged in armed struggle, which is what I think is ultimately why people labeled them that. In Europe, they would have been labeled as just being leftists, since what they did is not unheard of over there.

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