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Lessons and Memories From Weather Underground’s 45-Year-Old ‘Prairie Fire’ Manifesto – Tablet Magazine

I might wallow in nostalgia about my days with the Weather Underground in the early 1970s: at Coney Island with Bernardine Dohrn, eating Bill Ayers’ soufflés and Jeff Jones’ do-it-yourself breads and the joys of getting my left earlobe pieced by my wife, Eleanor, who was having the time of her life as a fugitive. However nostalgia would serve no objective aside from self-indulgence.

Better to concentrate on the publication of Prairie Hearth, 45 years ago, arguably as vital a manifesto as “The Port Huron Statement” (1962) that helped to launch Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the mass group Weatherman destroyed—with help from Progressive Labor (PL), the faction that urged members to go to factories and arrange staff. The Port Huron Statement emphasised ethical values, love, and honesty and expressed the will for democratic social change. Prairie Hearth (1974), the political statement of the Weather Underground, reverberated with ideology, endorsed revolutionary violence, and embodied a muffled desperation that underlay the bravado about Third World liberation. The paperback edition with a vibrant purple cowl, the phrases “Prairie Fire,” and a picture of flames was too massive to suit comfortably in a back pocket, however it was moveable enough to hold around as a badge of braveness or defiance or an invite to a brawl. The two paperwork revealed 14 years apart function bookends of the New Left, which provided hope within the midst of the Cold Conflict, and that descended into factionalism and a cult that worshipped violence even because the fissures in American society turned more and more transparent in the course of the struggle in Vietnam.

I joined SDS in 1967, took part in the Columbia strike in ’68, was arrested together with 700 or so different protesters, and was lively on campus for the subsequent two years while I taught literature and wrote for Liberation Information Service. I was not the one instructor arrested in ’68 however I was one in every of a handful.

This yr additionally marks the 50th anniversary of the Days of Rage, when a number of dozen Weathermen and ladies, who had given up on the antiwar movement, trashed automobiles and battled the Chicago police. Eleven years later, in 1980, Weather leaders Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers got here up from underground, surrendered to authorities, and put an finish to a decade-long FBI manhunt that bordered on the pathological—as Freedom of Info documents testify. At present, the ex-Weathermen and former members of the Weather Underground belong largely to the pages of fantasy. Writing about them looks like excavating the archeological website of a misplaced culture.

Bernardine Dohrn, a pacesetter of the Weather Underground, speaks from a podium following the splintering of the College students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organization, Chicago, late June 1969. Fellow activists Mark Rudd and Susan Stern stand to her left. (Photograph: David Fenton/Getty Pictures)

Not surprisingly, Prairie Hearth doesn’t look again at SDS with almost enough consideration to the historic report, although one sentence acknowledges that, “In the course of preparing for armed struggle in late 1969 we began mistaking friend for enemies.” Another reads, “We did not learn from meaningful criticism from comrades.” Critics of Weatherman and the Weather Underground—who are nonetheless bitter concerning the implosion of SDS—argue that Prairie Hearth additionally mistakes buddies for enemies. Certainly, the authors denounce organizing staff as “corrupt politics.” The further away from residence, the extra the Weather people noticed what they needed to see: the top of the American empire and the rise of a worldwide pressure for revolution.

It’s a must to look lengthy and exhausting, and ignore the seductive quotations from Native People, to seek out evidence in Prairie Hearth that the authors opened their hearts and minds to new ideas and feelings. Granted, there’s a quick mention of meals, hunger, and malnutrition, and a sentence or two about alienated labor and substandard housing, which they discovered about from their underground experience. There’s material about feminism however not actual readability concerning the enduring power of patriarchy. Solely within the essays that accompany the 2006 republication of Prairie Hearth—in a quantity titled Sing a Battle Track, that also consists of the Weather Underground’s communiqués—did they modify their tune, barely.

Bill Ayers mentions the Holocaust in passing, and echoes the cry By no means Once more, however with qualifications that make it clear he doesn’t actually care concerning the genocide of 6 million Jews. Jeff Jones allows that the organization “teetered on the terrible brink” of terrorism and utterly missed the relevance of Earth Day and the environmental movement of the 1970s, but otherwise defends the underground days. In Prairie Hearth, the self-criticism is skinny as paper; the satisfaction in the group’s 17 bombings—“to retaliate for … savage criminal attacks against Black and Third World People”—is thick as blood. Nobody was ever indicted for any bombings and no one in leadership served any vital time for clandestine exercise. There wasn’t enough proof to cost anyone and government misconduct precluded indictments.

Because of adulatory documentaries like Emile D. Antonio’s Underground (1976) and Sam Green’s The Weather Underground (2002), function movies like Robert Redford’s The Company You Maintain (2012), plus Marge Piercy’s Vida (1980), and Philip Roth’s American Pastoral (1997), the actual life, self-proclaimed agents of “armed struggle” have morphed into larger-than-life figures whose followers keep in mind them as idealists who put their bodies on the line, defied Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford and drove a stake into the guts of an empire that was dying in the Mekong Delta, on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and in Saigon.


The reality of the matter lies somewhere between the notion, on the one hand, that Weatherman and the Weather Underground are merely footnotes within the pages of American historical past, and however that they deserve a hefty chapter to themselves, alongside the Industrial Staff of the World (IWW), the Wobblies, and the Scholar Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the organization of younger, militant disciples of the Civil Rights Motion who pointed out that they have been neither college students nor nonviolent, and not nicely coordinated.

At their peak, the fugitive Weather people have been as legendary as the Wobblies and SNCC. Barely out of school, they took “noms de guerre,” gathered in collectives that made up “The Weather Machine,” and typically veered in instructions, like prostitution, unapproved by the “Weather Bureau,” the ruling body that changed its ideological tune, typically monthly, and managed to remain in power for half a decade.

While they boasted their prowess as “urban guerrillas,” they have been violent solely in modest methods when compared to their heroes, the Tupamaros in Uruguay, who assassinated “enemies,” and the Symbionese Liberation Army in the USA, who carried guns, kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, and robbed banks. The Weather people complained about “white skin privilege”—the advantages that accrued to People with mild skins in a racist society—but they not often escaped the privileges to which they have been born and raised, not even once they have been needed by the FBI.

The privilege is clear from an in depth studying of Prairie Hearth, and from an appreciation of how the document came to be written and then printed by the Pink Dragon Collective. The venture demanded time, cash, labor, a clandestine network, and a secure, secret location—with gloves every step of the best way to stop identification of potential suspects—behind an innocent-looking front office with a desk and a file cabinet.

It took college-educated, artful radicals with prosperous, beneficiant associates and relations “above ground” to distribute the manifesto nationally and create small “front groups” devoted to the research of the text and adoration of the organization that created it. The Weather people also granted permission for a copyrighted copy of Prairie Hearth by a separate, legal entity, the Communications Firm, with fastened addresses in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Thanks in large part to the mystique of the underground, Prairie Hearth was among the most widely read and mentioned books in left-wing circles in the mid-1970s. I used to be there. I seemed on with a mixture of shock, marvel, and unhappiness just like the sensation I had once I visited the Weather fugitives for the last time in New York and found myself watching a poster of Mao.


To create the ebook with no hitch it took years of apply in the art of secrecy. In 1971, members of the Weather Underground had placed a bomb in a toilet in the U.S. Capitol and issued a press release by which they stated, “armed underground attacks, propaganda, demonstrations in cities and campuses, actions by local collectives, all forms of organizing and political warfare can wreck the Amerikan war machine.” (Like different radical groups, the Weather people adopted the German spelling to mirror the notion that the U.S. was a fascist nation.) Prairie Hearth demanded extra coordination than the bombing of the Capitol, which prompted Sen. George McGovern to foretell that violent explosions would continue so long as the USA was at warfare in Vietnam. He was right about that.

Just like the Wobblies, whom they revered, the Weather people have been rough-and-tumble globalists who boasted in Prairie Hearth that they needed to arrange the oppressed and create a brand new world in the shell of the previous, though they didn’t look after the sort of white working-class males who once shaped the spine of the IWW. Like the members of SNCC, they didn’t look after membership lists, and like the SNCC activists, they caught hearth wherever racism reared its head, although in contrast to SNCC they never ventured into Mississippi and Alabama. That was a bridge too far.

Weather aimed to fuse the idea and apply of revolution, but the group purchased into the myths it created about itself and have been swept up in romanticism not typically seen in left-wing quarters since Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara unseated the Batista dictatorship in 1959. In some circles at present, criticism of the Weather people is tantamount to a betrayal of the legacy of the American left. Say a damaging word and Dan Berger, the writer of Outlaws of America (2006), defends the Weathermen and the women who advocated, in his view, the “politics of solidarity” and whose actions might help us perceive “the mess we now find ourselves in.”

To try this, it might be extra productive to examine what Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have been doing in the White Home in the 1970s to reassert the hegemony of the Republican Social gathering in the wake of Watergate, Nixon’s resignation, and the failure of counterinsurgency in Southeast Asia.

In “Honk Amerika,” a communiqué issued on July 25, 1970, Bernardine Dohrn and the central committee taunted Nixon’s Lawyer Common John Mitchell: “Don’t look for us, Dog; we’ll find you first.” That was pure bravado. Two members of the underground, Howie Machtinger and Judith Clark, have been quickly arrested and jailed. The whole group was almost captured in March 1971, when $650 was wired, by a lawyer and a good friend of Dohrn’s, from a Western Union office in Chicago to an office in San Francisco. Jeff Jones—in disguise, and with pretend ID—picked up the cash, met Dohrn around the corner, and eluded FBI agents who have been watching the workplace and who had staked out the neighborhood. The whole West Coast network had to be deserted, IDs modified, and protected homes scuttled, a story that doesn’t make the pages of Prairie Hearth. Mao may need referred to as the fugitives “paper tigers.”

That close to catastrophe for the organization passed off once I was dwelling in Manhattan, educating at the State College of New York at Stony Brook and in touch with my spouse, who was a part of the Brooklyn underground collective that included Robert Roth, who was 20, Ron Fliegelman, who would later admit to creating bombs, and Mike Spiegel who turned a lawyer.

There were a lot of Jews in Weatherman—the above-mentioned individuals—as well as John Jacobs, Judy Clark, Dave Gilbert, Kathy Boudin, Mark Rudd, and Naomi Jaffe. None of them publicly identified as Jews or noticed Jewish holidays, but they have been aware of the extermination of 6 tens of millions Jews. Ted Gold, who had been a member of Columbia SDS earlier than he joined Weatherman, famously exclaimed that if it might take excessive repression before a revolution in america, “We’ll have to have fascism.” Nobody appeared to be troubled by H. Rap Brown’s comment, “Want to play Nazis? Black folks ain’t going to play Jews.” The history of Jewish socialists, communists, and anarchists was forgotten within the rush to honor Cubans, Vietnamese, African People, and Palestinians—virtually each ethnic group except Jews.


Wikipedia lists 41 members of the Weather group, alphabetically, from William Charles Anderson to Jane Ann White. My identify seems after White’s, as though the one that compiled the record added “Jonah Raskin” as an afterthought. For a long time I didn’t know if I was in it or out of it, for it or towards it. I used to be in love with the romance of the underground however hated the bombings. Also, I was making an attempt to save lots of a wedding that had no probability of survival. A walking talking contradiction, I might inform my spouse and her comrades that the Weather Underground was going nowhere, and that they need to give up to the police and return to the antiwar motion that was mobilizing a whole lot of hundreds of protesters in the streets of New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

I supported my spouse financially when she was underground, met together with her immediately after the townhouse explosion, and on and off for the subsequent six months till she realized I wasn’t going to turn her over to the FBI. On at the least one event I implored her to return to me. That didn’t go anyplace. I had some tender moments together with her but she wasn’t prepared to surrender her fugitive life.

My major discussions with the fugitives revolved around three subjects: mass protest; “armed action”; and the efficacy and nature of the underground itself. While they by no means totally dominated out mass action and I by no means completely dominated out “armed action,” we came down on reverse sides of the divide between the two. I helped manage the Might Day anti-war protests in Washington, D.C. In 1971, they positioned the bomb in a toilet within the U.S. Capitol. My preliminary impulse in 1970 soon after they went underground, was to publish a set of essays by members of the group. I secured a writer and persuaded Doris Lessing to put in writing an introduction. Then a few of the contributors squabbled with one another and the ebook died a sudden demise. I believed within the power of the written word. They believed in the power of armed wrestle. Maybe Prairie Hearth means that they came to understand my perspective. They stopped bombing long enough to put in writing and distribute their guide.


To buddies within the antiwar motion, lots of whom loathed the Weather Underground, I insisted that they have been part of the spectrum of resistance and ought to not be demonized. My primary ally was my mother-in-law, Annie Stein, a longtime member of the Communist Get together, who spoke Yiddish as well as English, and who turned an important participant in the Weather Underground. A self-proclaimed Maoist with Bolshevik sympathies, she insisted that a small group of dedicated revolutionaries might spark a well-liked rebellion with a daring motion or two.

In December 1970, I helped write the communiqué “New Morning” which contained a key passage that stated: “It is time for the movement to go out into the air, to organize, to risk calling rallies and demonstrations, to convince that mass actions against the war and in support of rebellions do make a difference.”

I assumed the underground would abandon clandestine activity and bombings. I was mistaken. After “New Morning” was revealed, the fugitives went back to bombing and defending “revolutionary violence.” Four years later, in Prairie Hearth, they rebuked themselves for giving “uncritical support to youth culture” and for failing to interact in dialogue with the New York Black Panthers who urged them to proceed “armed struggle.”

No one had to tell me that the bomb maker I noticed was creating an explosive system. I had seen enough films and TV exhibits with guys who make bombs to know that the wires and the clock that match into a small cigar box, or something prefer it, had to be a bomb, although it appeared nothing like these round balls with fuses that have been in illustrations of crazy-looking males who have been imagined to be anarchists. This was the actual deal and the bomb maker was actual, too, and not a cliché of an anarchist. He was very cool, calm, and collected. I watched for some time in awe and apprehension and then because nobody had advised me what was going to happen and because I didn’t want the memory to stay in my brain I did my greatest to enter denial. Soon after that I went into denial once more once I watched one of many fugitives burn the wrappers from a few sticks of dynamite.

Why did he do this in entrance of me? In all probability for the same purpose that members of the underground advised me secrets. They had to share the memory of horrible issues with someone, and as an insider/outsider and additionally as a author—all of them knew I wrote and all of them read my stuff—I turned a father confessor. I didn’t make or transport any bombs however I feel I played a useful position. But I also had nightmares, like one by which the cops discover my fingerprint in a Weather house and arrest me.


As Prairie Hearth makes clear, the Weather management shuttled again and forth from self-criticism to self-righteousness. Given the head-spinning and the collective brainwashing, I drifted away from the group, gave up making an attempt to salvage my marriage, went to Mexico, wrote about B. Traven, the anarchist-pacifist writer, then resettled in California, the place I briefly joined a Prairie Hearth discussion group and was invited, by Kathy Boudin—who had survived the March 1970 explosion that had killed Gold, Robbins, and Oughton—to hitch the Weather Underground. My heart wasn’t in it. I began to see Weatherman and the Weather Underground with more detachment than ever before, and edited, collected, and revealed with an introduction The Weather Eye, a volume that contained the Weather communiqués, by which I gently scolded the underground for relying “too heavily on the tactic of bombing.” (Kurt Vonnegut helped wean me from my romance with the underground. “You don’t go underground until all other political options have failed,” he informed me. It took years earlier than I might recognize his perception.)

In 2006, City Lights revealed Sing a Battle Music, an anthology of all of the writings by the Weather Underground, edited by Dohrn, Ayers, and Jones, along with The Weather Eye and a new essay I had written that was redacted by Jones, my criticisms toned down. An unedited model of my essay appeared in Socialism and Democracy underneath the title “Looking Backward: Reflections on Language, Gesture and Mythology in the Weather Underground.” I’m nonetheless wanting backward, still making an attempt to know my very own “revolutionary romanticism,” as my good friend and mentor Doris Lessing referred to as it, hoping to liberate me, as she had once liberated herself, from the revolutionary romanticism that led her to hitch the Communist Social gathering. My Weather expertise felt like her Communist expertise, which she described as probably the most “neurotic” in her life.

A method for me to determine my neurosis and strip aside illusions about “Weather,” or “The Eggplant,” as insiders referred to as it, is to reread and deconstruct Prairie Hearth, which had an élan even earlier than anyone opened its pages and started to read chapters during which the words imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, sexism, and racism are repeated over and over again as if repetition may exorcise their energy. In the 156-page manifesto, the authors define themselves as “revolutionary anti-imperialists,” unwilling to be perceived merely as revolutionaries or merely as anti-imperialists. Predictably, they rebuked liberals for making an attempt to “reform” imperialism and make it less noxious and extra palatable.

Firefighters battle the smoke and flames from an explosion within the basement of 18 West 11th St., New York City, March 6, 1970. The Greenwich Village house was being used by members of the Weatherman (later Weather Underground) and the explosion, brought on by the unintentional detonation of a bomb during its development, resulted in three deaths. (Photograph: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Pictures)

Within the pages of Prairie Hearth, the authors insist again and once more with slightly totally different emphasis each time that given the worldwide disaster precipitated by the army defeat of america in Vietnam, the world was ripe for the type of revolutions that had rocked Russia on the end of WWI, China within the 1930s and 1940, and Cuba within the 1950s. If nothing else, the homegrown anti-imperialist revolutionaries have been grandiose and messianic.

In their first major political document, “You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows”—the title was borrowed from Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and revealed within the SDS newspaper New Left Notes in June 1969—the 11 authors (Karen Ashley, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, John Jacobs, Jeff Jones, Gerry Lengthy, Howie Machtinger, Jim Mellen, Terry Robbins, Mark Rudd, and Steve Tappis) argued that to make a revolution in the USA, a “vanguard” of whites, led by a supervanguard of African People, would wish to confront the police and close down faculties and schools. The subsequent step was to create a “clandestine organization of revolutionaries, having a unified ‘general staff,’ combined with discipline under one centralized leadership.” Lenin should have been wanting over their shoulders.

From Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” the self-proclaimed vanguard moved to Mao Zedong’s The Little Purple Guide that was passed from hand handy in communes, collectives and on campuses. In 1930, 4 years before the beginning of the Lengthy March and 19 years before the seizure of state power, Mao rebuked his foes within the Chinese language Communist Celebration who insisted that revolutionaries needed to await “objective” circumstances before they might take up arms towards their oppressors.

Quite the opposite, Mao defined, “A single spark could start a prairie fire.” Mao added that the “high tide of revolution” was “like a child about to be born moving restlessly in its mother’s womb.” John Jacobs, higher know as “J.J.”—probably the most ideological of the Weathermen, one of many strongest advocates for using violence and probably the most blatantly sexist—wasn’t as poetic, earthy, or motherly as Mao. Still, in 1969 he expressed the emotions of the group when he proclaimed, “We are the incubation of your mother’s nightmare.” He added, “We’re against everything that’s ‘good and decent’ in honky America. We will ‘burn and loot and destroy.’” 5 years later, when Prairie Hearth was revealed—with a dedication to Harriet Tubman and John Brown—J.J. had been expelled from the organization. In reality, he needed the members of the underground to cover in middle-class America and launch guerilla warfare from suburbia.

To Dohrn and firm, J.J.’s state of affairs appeared like a nightmare; they saw themselves hiding in the sea of the American counterculture, making bombs in hippie enclaves and driving in Volvos to plant them, as they did, in buildings just like the Capitol, the Pentagon, and, within the last of their “armed propaganda” actions, within the federal workplaces of the Division of Health, Schooling, and Welfare in San Francisco to protest cuts in public assistance. Calling themselves city guerrillas, as they do in Prairie Hearth, provides them extra credit (or blame) then they deserve. They didn’t use guns, and didn’t goal rifles and shoot at cops as some Black Panthers did, a narrative Donald Cox tells in his memoir, Nothing However a Nigger (2019).

Along with J.J., a lot of the co-authors of “You Don’t Need a Weatherman,” (including Ashley, Long, Mellen, and even Rudd, who had played a decisive position through the protests at Columbia in 1968) had fallen by the wayside by 1974, the casualties of sectarian strife and ideological confrontations. When Prairie Hearth was revealed “the centralized leadership” that J.J. and his comrades had referred to as for boasted 5 members, all of them now, in 2019, in their 60s and 70s, with grandchildren, pensions, and summer time houses, none of them apologetic about their actions within the lengthy ’60s, the era of protest, upheaval, and cultural revolution that stretched from 1955, by way of the Civil Rights Movement, to 1975 and the top of the Vietnam Warfare.


I know little concerning the manufacturing of Prairie Hearth, though from 1970 to 1973 I had discussions concerning the ideas in the manifesto. By 1974 I was out of the image. Earlier, I saw things I shouldn’t have seen—just like the making of a bomb—and heard issues—like the fetish for dynamite—I didn’t need to hear. I’ve read accounts of the making of Prairie Hearth in books like Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage however those accounts battle with what I was informed by fugitives 40 years ago.

The members of the central committee who oversaw the writing and publication of Prairie Hearth have been: Dohrn, a University of Chicago regulation faculty graduate with a Jewish father and a Christian Science mom; Jeff Jones, whose father was a pacifist and a conscientious objector in WWII, employed within the 1950s by the Walt Disney Firm; Invoice Ayers, the scion of a wealthy, powerful Chicago household—his father served as the CEO at Commonwealth Edison—and a scholar radical on the College of Michigan; Robert Roth, a former Columbia School scholar and member of SDS who had grown up in a secular Jewish family in New York; and a lady who glided by the identify Celia Sojourn, (an amalgam of Celia Cruz, the preferred Cuban singer of the 20th century, and Sojourner Fact, the 19th-century African American ex-slave and abolitionist).

What the odd members of the central committee had in widespread with one another was an uncanny means to survive the psychological pressures of underground life, remain loyal to at least one another, and refuse to feel guilty about “mistakes,” like the explosion that passed off in March 1970 within the basement of a Manhattan house home that claimed the lives of Diana Oughton, Ted Gold, and Terry Robbins, who have been making bombs meant to destroy property and take human lives.

Mark Rudd was the fugitive who expressed to me real remorse concerning the deaths of Oughton, Gold, and Robbins; even years later he was visibly shaken. Nothing conveyed the shortage of sorrow concerning the lack of life more than the undergrounder glibly singing the lyrics to the Beatles “Come Together”:

He say one and one is three
obtained to be good wanting
’cause he’s so arduous to see
come together
proper now
over me

In a letter addressed to “sisters and brothers,” that serves as a preface to Prairie Hearth, Dohrn, Ayers, Jones, and Sojourn clarify that their document was written over a 12-month interval, “squeezed between on-going work and practice and action,” went via four revisions, and that it was “collectively adopted” as the statement of your complete group. Yeah, yeah, yeah! Echoing Mao, they explained that Prairie Hearth was drafted with a sense of urgency and as ammunition “against those who oppose action and hold back the struggle.” To Dohrn and company, the document marked the start of one other “cycle” of rebel and resistance, solely extra intense than the previous cycle. Neither she nor anyone else within the underground saw the handwriting on the wall. The Weather Underground had written a swan track, not the opening aria of a revolutionary opera.

By 1975, Dohrn, Ayers, Jones, and Sojourn can be denounced as counterrevolutionaries, deposed and banished from leadership. In 1980, they surrendered to the authorities, and returned to the lives and the careers that they had abandoned in the late 1960s, although in the first communiqué from Might 1970, Dohrn had insisted, “We will never go back” and “never again” will “black revolutionaries … fight alone.” The Weather Underground, she had promised, would create a sort of “fifth column” and “fight behind enemy lines.”

In hindsight, Prairie reads as the last testament of a small left-wing group that rioted in the streets of Chicago in 1969 through the Days of Rage, helped to destroy SDS, and later reincarnated itself as a clandestine organization that positioned bombs in government buildings, phoned in warnings, and issued communiqués typically solely a paragraph or two, typically pages long. The 26 communiqués, which began with “A Declaration of a State of War,” provide a document of the ideological twists and turns the organization took. They mirror the inclination to problem orders to the plenty, inform them what to assume and what to do, as if they have been too stoned, and too unsophisticated in the realm of “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” to figure out a blueprint for action and longing for leaders to steer them, despite Dylan’s injunction, “Don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meters.”

One of the sillier habits of the Weather people was to read secret messages in pop songs, just like the Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” which depicts a younger man who murders a instructor, a decide, and a classmate and gets away together with his crimes. There’s little of that type of silliness in Prairie Hearth, although there’s numerous different silliness, as when the authors insist that the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Black Liberation Army, both of them small remoted organizations, have been “leading forces in the development of armed struggle and political consciousness.” The authors added that the SLA and the BLA have been “respected by ourselves and other revolutionaries,” though in the 1970s there have been few American radicals, rebels, protesters, or activists who recognized with or supported the BLA or the SLA.

As Prairie Hearth suggests, life underground had produced a warped view of political, social, and cultural life in america. It encouraged wishful considering, and led to glib generalizations about historical past, revolution, and the longer term. While there are sections about Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Portugal, there’s nothing about Ireland and its revolutionary custom, or about France and Czechoslovakia in 1968, or anything about 1968 as a pivotal historical moment. The absence of historic figures, like Hitler and Stalin, is as telling because the presence of historic figures reminiscent of Amilcar Cabral and Don Pedro Albizu Campos, and, although there are not any footnotes and virtually no quotations in the textual content itself, there are substantial quotations at the beginning of each part and a three-page bibliography that indicates what the Weather people have been studying.

There are extra books by Marx and Lenin than some other writers, and much more writers from america (Sam Melville, John Reed, Edgar Snow, Studs Terkel, Stan Steiner, Paul Sweezy, and Harry Magdoff at Month-to-month Evaluate) than authors from other nations. In between making and planting bombs, and attending to matters of safety, there was loads of time to take pleasure in books, although a few of the most generally learn texts didn’t make it to the Prairie Hearth bibliography. A favorite was The Spook Who Sat by the Door, a 1969 novel by Sam Greenlee, which follows a black CIA agent named Dan Freeman who creates a band of “Freedom Fighters” and launches guerrilla warfare in america. That fantasy fed Weather situations, as did books concerning the clandestine resistance to fascism carried out by the “Red Orchestra.”

Prairie Hearth warns concerning the export of American-made “fascism to the Third World.” Not surprisingly, Richard Nixon appears as a “war criminal,” a “political leader of the counter-revolution” and “an executioner of the Rosenbergs, the men at Attica, the students at Jackson and Kent.” Never thoughts that the Weather people didn’t get the details straight. They had to demonize, much as the FBI needed to demonize them. On the finish of Prairie Hearth, the authors urge readers to “Go to the People,” “Create struggle,” and “tell the truth.” What occurred to “Listen!”? They add, “Life itself depends on our ability to deal a swift blow to the monster.” To realize that goal, they created the Prairie Hearth Organizing Committee, and, whereas radicals signed up, they have been soon disenchanted. The Weather attempt to control fizzled.

Except Dave Gilbert—who is in prison for life, convicted of murder after the botched robbery of a Brinks armored car and the dying of two cops—a lot of the Weather survivors enjoy the white pores and skin privileges they never shed. Gilbert’s comrade-in-arms, Judy Clark, another foot soldier within the underground, was released on April 17, 2019, after spending 38 years in jail. She and Gilbert each lived the politics of Prairie Hearth and paid with their freedom.


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