They’re Back – M. Rudd

From: Mark Rudd mark@…
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 16:18:52 -0600
Subject: They’re back, and ready to ORGANIZE!!!

Dear Friends: Perhaps you’ve heard that Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, a defunct sixties rock group, has been resurrected from the grave. It’s true!

Myself, I’ve kept my distance up to now, thinking that they don’t need any stupid old people hanging around to screw things up, like we did forty years ago.

But I have been watching the growth of this new SDS, with more than 130 chapters on college and high school campuses. You can check out what they’ve been up to at this link. Last May I had the pleasure of meeting two young organizers from Tacoma SDS. They’ve been doing some great work organizing against the war in the Olympia/Tacoma area, which you can read about on the above website.

Last month I was recruited by a zealous grey-haired organizer, Bruce Rubenstein of Hartford, Conn, (or maybe he has no hair, I’ve never met him in person), to join the SDS old people’s auxiliary, Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS). The original MDS was founded around 1967 to provide an organizational framework for post-campus organizers. This one is intended to help the young SDS organizers with bail, fund-raising, advice (only if asked), logistical support, and who knows what else. The president of MDS is our old founder, Al Haber, one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement. Check out MDS at this link.

Somehow, I was immediately put on MDS’ board upon joining. When I looked on the website to try to figure out what the duties of board members are, I found my name alongside those of other several old comrades, among others: Tom Hayden, Carl Davidson, Bernardine Dohrn, Charlene Mitchell, Michael Rossman, Michael James, HOWARD ZINN and NOAM CHOMSKY!!!! Now I know what it feels like to be on the same board with both God and Jesus Christ.

A lot of the start-up SDS support work in the last year has been done by Paul Buhle, at Brown, and Tom Good, of New York City. Tom edits a website called Next Left Notes, which you might want to check out at this link. He has a bunch of great stuff there, plus links to everything under the sun. Check out especially Paul Buhle’s reports and essays.

My deepest hope is that the new SDS flourishes and helps build the broadest possible anti-war movement and even a new radical movement to challenge the violent fascist clique now in power in Washington.

One requisite is that they and we avoid the stupid ideological infighting, sectarianism, name-calling, and “correct lineism” that killed the old SDS. (For my mea culpas, check out my website at this link.) Unfortunately there’s already been an outbreak of this garbage, involving three old comrades, Tom Good, Jesse Lemisch, and Maurice Isserman, all good people; in response young organizers will probably just change the channel, but old people like me will certainly be repulsed and withdraw because we have better things to do with the little time left us on this mortal coil.

Let’s hope this is the last instance of the poison which is guaranteed to kill us off. Or are we incapable of learning from our mistakes?

*Anyway, the purpose of this long message, please forgive me, is to ask you to investigate joining SDS (if you’re a student or young person) and MDS (if you’re a veteran or off-campus).* We need help getting these organizations going. The intergenerational aspect of the work can be a plus, especially if the old people don’t act as a heavy hand on the young.

Speaking of which, anyone interested in helping me organize a Buddhist style self-immolation brigade? We could create instant martyrs, plus get rid of some of our more annoying old comrades at the same time.

Feel free to write me with your response at mark@…

Also, please circulate this message to your lists so that we can get the word out about SDS and MDS.

For peace, justice, and freedom, and a new and better SDS,


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