Approaches to revolution
by RALPH BROWN
Points of Rebellion by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas; Vintage Books, $4.95 hardback, $1.95 paper (smaller and easier to pocket). Do It! by Jerry Rubin, Introduction by Eldridge Cleaver, Graphics by Quentin Fiore; Simon and Schuster, $2.45 or a very simple little rip-off.
Justice Douglas* book is very short, almost totally devoid of anyone's rhetoric, carefully organized and painfully clear and to the point.
He deals first with how America views dissent and it is clear to him that the raising of voices of dissent has created a climate of insecurity both in this country and in other places around the world. The young are involved in making a revolution and he sees that the "goal of their revolution is not to destroy the regime of technology. It is to make the existing system more human, to make the machine subservient to man, to allow for the flowering of a society where all the idiosyncracies of man can be honored and respected."
It is nice, somehow, to feel understood even though the linear-distancing effect of print by a Supreme Court Justice. Perhaps Douglas can understand because he has been a non-conformist (or so my lawyer friends tell me) for his entire career.
It would be easier for him to look at the surfaced ripples in rocked-boat America with a Utile less prejudiced eye; he can then see and is unafraid to state that: "the dissent we witness is a reaffirmation of faith in man; it is protest against living under rules and prejudices and attitudes that produce the extremes of wealth and poverty and that make us dedicated to the destruction of people through arms, bombs, and gases, and that prepare us to think alike and be submissive objects for the regime of the computer."
In the second section of the book he analyzes the legions of dissent. He deals here with what might be called the "Fourth World:" the urban poor who are surrounded with affluence yet morally bankrupt suburban America; the rural poor, educationally disadvantaged, who see the Madison Avenue version of the Great American Norm in commercials for automobiles and color televisions; the student (an amalgam of the two) who hasn't yet bought bis way into the society which he studies and who may be as poor as his brothers in the Project, Pralltown, the Bottoms, Keen, Troy, Harlan, or Muldraugh, These are the people who are raising their voices in protest, calling for revolutionary changes in our institutions.
Yet, as Douglas notes, "the powers--that-be faintly echo Adolf Hitler, who said in 1932: The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might and the republic is in danger. Yes, danger from within and without. We need law and order."
I disagree with Justice Douglas over his use of word "faintly" in his preface to the quotation taken from Hitler's speech. When I compare the public statements of Agnew, Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, the pre--election-campaign-trail-Nixon with Hitler's I find not a "faint echo" but a frightening identity.
The third section, "A start toward restructuring our society " concerns itself with what Douglas sees as the two most immediately vital problem areas: reallocating our national resources and creating some control or surveillance over key administrative agencies. The point which he makes most clearly here is that in these areas there are many people who are powerless and who have real grievances which have gone unredressed He comments: "George HI was the symbol against which our Founders made a revolution now considered bright and glorious. George HI had not crossed the seas to fasten a foreign yoke on us. George HI and his dynasty had established and nurtured us and all that he did was by no means oppressive. But a vast restructuring of laws and institutions was necessary if the people were to be content. That restructuring was not forthcoming and there was revolution. We must realize that today's establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in trad it on, is also revolution."
The key phrase is "honored in tradition" for as he points out in another place, "violence has no constitutional sanction; and every government from the beginning has moved against it." Shall we, then, attempt to adhere to the forms (the laws, the Constitution) which our founders established or shall we, following in their footsteps (do as I do, not as I say), pay homage to their traditions? The final all-American thought which sticks in the mind is that "violence may be the only effective response."
Jerry Rubin, about 44 years younger than Douglas, is no longer talking about the "points of rebellion." For Rubin the task at hand is making revolution and thus the title of his book. Cleaver's introduction is excellent and Fiore's graphics make, to a large extent, the impact of the book. Rubin begins with an autobiography ("a child of Amerika") followed by "FUCK AMERICA." The last two-page spread is "APOCALYPSE." The meat of what is between is Rubin's rap on Revolution (here it is "the Revolution" instead of Douglas' "revolution.")
My response to Rubin: FUCK AMERIKA yes, yes in the two senses of the word. The love/hate essence is here: "FUCK YOU AMERIKA, YOU PIG--WHORE'V'LOVE OF COUNTRY-""both are equally real, the Freudian ambiguity of our culture. I feel both ways about Amerika/America, their country/my country, Freedom (qualified, qualified)/FREEDOM! The question which Do It! rubs in, insists on your asking is: What am I up to, for God's sake, for my sake, for the sake of my country, my people, my fucking hedonistic soul? And I suppose that like a lot of other people who want their revolution pre-packaged and doctrinaire, I've been talking about doing it for too long. It occurs to me while reading Do It! ... that all the marxist stuff which I have sworn by and rapped on and on about (usually preceeded by "as soon as I get it together ... ") comes out of the crazy heat of moving toward APOCALYPSE. I.. that the marxists (like the old line Boston tea party Anarchists) didn't really finish the job they set out to do. ... that nearly everybody I know has been "getting it together" for as long as I've known them.
... that Rubin is beautifully, shrewdly, divinely CRAZY like the Lone Ranger
(who still fives in the hears of his countrymen); was there ever another white dude"with all those far-out clothes and silver bullets, tool"who shot it out for justice instead of law n'order? ... that we are all outlaws in the eys of Amerika. We didn't (and don't) choose to be desperadoes but had it forced on us by "My country right or wrong," "Amerika love it or leave it," "Bomb Hanoi;" by words like "peace queer," "nigger," "love hippie," "wop" "kike," and others equally beloved by the fatherland or the UncleSamLandl We are outlaws because, though crazy by "their" standards, by our own standards we are very proud of ourselves for being uppity, for being beautiful, for being stoned, and for being mean MOTHERFUCKERS when we're pissed.
Rubin is right: it is the time for revolution-making ... for our kind of revolution because the PIG-NATION is prepared to fight their kind and our kind can't be fought against; besides fucking in trees and laughing at pigs is fun. It is the time for violent revolution but then
violence is a pretty subjective word; pick out your own favorite form of revolution, quit talking about it and get it on!
In every stage of these oppressions we, the people of the United States, have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms"the civil rights sit-ins, the anti-war petitons, the marches on the pentagon, ref erendums, peaceful demonstrations, attempts to awaken the dead soul of middle Amerika. Our repeated petitons have been answered only by repeated injury ... "When a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design to oppress, to reduce to tyranny and despotism, it is the right, it is the duty of the people to throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security." If I/you/we do not make revolution then PIG-AMERIKA has won and we had better start petitions to "please let us keep our rock music, our groovy clothes, our long hair, our funny cigarettes, pretty please?"
Ps: Jerry Rubin doesn't really say all of these tilings in his book. I said some of them.
Hey kids! Big Louie down at the store (157 s. limestone) wants you to draw your own advertisement, so pull out your crayons and have a "boss" time.
A group of ten people from Knoxville passed through Lexington recently, on their way to Canada. They have about 20 acres of land up there which they hope to settle and turn into a stopping place for visitors, newly landed immigrants or deserters. If anyone can help with contributions, please contact John Crump at 465 Woodland Avenue in Lexington.