May 1968, Riesel
The Revolutionaries Dream WASHINGTON — In tottering France, they’re the “ultras.” In America, the extremists. Just as, for the moment in France, the black flag has replaced the red, the revolutionary left here has been edging the “new left” toward the brink. Young as America’s “new left” is, vocal as it is, activist as it is, it’s old in comparison with the shadow-y, unknown world of this country’s revolutionary left — liberation commissions. freedom committees, action movements, offshoots. splinters, slivers and cells, many of them armed Victor Riesel with machine guns, new rifles, cherry bombs, guerrilla street war plans and screaming newspapers. Each movement is tiny. Each nihilist cell is minuscular. Each is scoffed at by the other sects, and mention of them brings snickers from Ihe university’s intellectual elite. But now toat a 23-year-old French student from the Parisian suburbs touched off a movement which triggered sitdow-ns of 5 to 8 million workers, the intellectuals’ laughter is not as loud or i^arty as it was yesterday. World comes from J. Edgar Hoover who never wastes his words, sources, informers or agents, that the new-est revolutionary left is as dangerous to toe U.S. as the rampant nihilism is in France. “THE REVOLUTIONARY stand taken by many members of militant black nationalist organizations.” says ihe FBI director (referring to one segment of the ultraleft), “represents a distinct threat to the internal security of the nation. This situation has made it necessary for the FBI to intensify its intelligence operation in this field through penetration of these groups with informants and sources in order to be kept aware of their plans and objectives. “This penetration has been made at all levels, including the top echelon of these extremist groups.” The Bureau knows of cases of machine guns and rifles cached by extremists in ghetto areas. There is a newspaper in Detroit’s central city, the “Inner Voice,” claiming 10,000 readers, which has given detailed instructions on the making of antiperswmel explosives and firebombs. There is the Revolutionary Action Movement, which maintains contact with its leader, Robert F. Williams, now in mainland China. Certainly it has but 50 members. But that’s three times what the French 23-year-old had as a confrontation legion three weeks ago on the outskirts of Paris. Cynics may laugh. But the Communist parties don’t. They know toat this young French nihilist leader called toe Soviet Communists “Stalinist creeps” Here, the 13,000-member Communist Party, led by the aging Gus Hall, is quite agitated. It’s being pricked into bleeding by the splinters which whirled off from the American Communist establishment. These kids want to play rough. Their leaders shuttle between the U.S. and Cuba. THERE IS. FOR EXAMPLE, the Progressive I.abor Party with its Black Liberaticwi Commission led by Bill Epton, who knows much about rifles and has been convicted of conspiracy to riot for the part he played in the 1964 Harlem flare-up. These 20- to 25-year-olds are 1917-1919 vintage revolutionists. Their grandfathers, apocrj'phaliy speaking, trained for the revolution in the Michigan woods away back then. But these kids aren’t playing. To the Progressive Labor Party revoluticHiists, SDS (Students for a I)em(x?ratic Society) is milk toast campus capers for the boys and girls. The PLP is interested in “base-building” inside the working class. Only the proletariat, they say, can bring the nation to a “screeching halt.” So the PLP’s disciplined young men and women sneer at the Trotskyites, the Socialists Workers Party, toe Johnson-Forest Group, the Workers World Party, the Revolutionary Committee of the Fourth International, or remnants of the Workers League World revolution won’t come from these “business socialites” say the PLP theoreticians. The way to the barricades Is via workers action. SO THIS PLP, MAO IST motivated, sends it cadres into the teachers federation, retail unions, toe garment workers, the auto union, the railroad brotherhoods and shops manned by Negroes and PuertoRicans. Th PLP direct actionists prod students to organize factory “Work-Ins.” Last year, it was in Boston and five other cities. This summer they’ll be at it again. They hope to base-build with the new workers, especially in munitions plants, transport, and other bottlenecks. The old Communist Part\' did just this inside the old CIO 30 years ago. Today the new revolutionists have no such central direction. But they’ve money. They’ve motivation. They’ve a romantic haven in Cuba. They’ve a real proletariat among whom to work, in real ghettos. The extremists may get no place here with their cells and confrontations and black flags and secret societies and military training. But laugh not. It doesn’t take much to bloody a city, shut a plant, cut communications. These young people w’ant action. They’ll unleash it. This is a very permissive society.