May 1969, Chamberlain
JOHN CHAMBERLAIN SDSers Are Said Planning French-Style 'Revolution' not May is the traditional R e d month, and by all the portents coming from Students tor a Democratic Society sources May, 1969 in Hie U.S. is going to follow the pattern of May, 1968 in France. An inevitable difference of course, is that President Nixon, unlike Charles de Gaulle, can'I be definitively challenged as "chief of slate" until 1972. The SDS idea, like the idea of the young Trotskyisis of t h e Jeunesse Communiste Revolu- tionaire and anarchistic followers of "Danny the l!ed" Cohn - Bendil in France, is not to provoke a full scale, revolution, just yet. What the SDS has in mind is something on the order of the 1905 "rehearsal for revolution" in Czarist Russia. The universities are to be "potilicalized," meaning that they are to be transformed into continuing bull sessions that have little to do with disinterested learning or the acquisition of important skills such as foreign languages. The objective here is to give plenty of insur- rectionary experience to young Trotskyists for a revolutionary finale that is conveniently dated for whatever future time that the "old politics" may finally disintegrate. The SDS, it is perfectly true, is not a unified organization. New characters continue to float to the top. The Maoist - Caslroile Progressive Labor parly is very much in the SDS picture; swarmed over the scene at all the fracases in and around the Harvard Yard. Then there are the non-parly "Marxist - Leninists." Michael Klonsky, the SDS national secretary, refers to himself as a lower case communist, and has heen so identified by J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. Another SDS luminary, the attractive, soft - spoken, nwd- mini - skirled Bernadine Dohrn, who spoke to the International Assembly of Revolutionary Student Movements al Columbia last fall about her trip to contact North Vietnamese in Prague, is one ot the t h r e e members of the Chicago leadership which the anarchists in the movement contemptuously refer to as the "Stalinist bureaucracy." This is standard name - calling, of course, an echo of "Danny the Red" Cohn - Bendit's description of the Moscow Communists as "creeps." It d o e s not keep the dissidents from working together whenever they converge on a university dean who lacks the gumption or the youthful strength to use his fists to protect his files, No wonder Gus Hall, the head of the U. S. Communist party, has said the SOS "is one of t h e groups we have going for us." Gus Hall may, however, be quite wrong about his hopes for using the SDS for official Communist purposes. In the U, S., the Progressive Labor parly, formed by Milton Rosen in Havana in 1963, has the inside track with a bigger number of SDS-ers than Gus Hall seems to (ouch. My informant, who regularly attends SDS meetings, FISCHETTI . . . The is: predicts that the Progressive Labor party w i l l control SDS within a year's time. If this is to be the pattern, it will follow t h e French model. "Danny (he Red" Colin - Bcn- dit, who believes thai coinmu. nisin is "absolele" and t h a anarchism is the Leftist "wave of the future," got most ot the headlines during the Paris student insurrections of 1968. But in "Red Flag, Black Flag," an excellent piece of book-length reporting by Patrick Scale a Maureen MeConville, t w o British journalists, it is obvious Ihat (lie real organizers of ths French student riois were t h a Trotskyisis. The Jeunesse Com- munisle Revolutionaire under Alain Krivine (he didn't get the headlines) provided what Seale and MeConville, both of tliem- 011 - the - spot observers, call "the student police force, iha all - important service d'ordre, which gave the massive demonstration its shape; which controlled traffic along the roule" to taking possession of t h e Sorbonnc. In France, the JCR managed to link up Ihe sludenl revolt the younger workers in the factories. And the Comile (faction Lycees, the left - wing teen-ag- ers in the French equivalent of our high schools, followed dutifully in the .ICR path. T h had already been radicalized as the Comites Lycees Vietnam over t h e issue of U. S. peralism" in Southeast Asia. As long as the SDS remains a fermenting clutter of lower case communisls, Maoists, anarchists, and free - wheeling rebels, the "revolution" in the U.S. will sputter. But if my own SDS observer sources a r e right, t h e "organizational" types are going lo take over here very much as the Trol- skyilcs took over in France. Anarchism is a charming ideal, but historically anarchists have always b e e n patsies for strong - arm boys who know to substitute new (and worse) bureaucracies tor the old.