Verdejost on Thu, 23 Sep 1999 22:55:41 +0200


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Syndicate: About Rastko etc.


Mihajlo Acimovic wrote:

<<The story published in a press release, by Rastko Sejic, the next morning 
was that around 40-50 policemen, with patrol cars and vans (and I don't know 
if they mentioned an armored car or a helicopter hovering), charged into 
Student Square from all directions, brutally forced them against the wall, 
handcuffed them, took them into a van and drove away. 
The story was a complete and utter lie.... 

The reason why neither of us did the symbol was because we didn't want to 
advertise an organisation that is controlled by protest profiteurs and deeply 
corrupt.
  >>

I thought another story along this line, from another place and another time, 
might be appropo:  

Chicago, 1968.  I was working with what was called The Mobe (The 
Mobilization), an umbrella group of organisations and people coming together 
to make a protest at the Chicago Democratic Convention.  The times were very 
volatile, the major "problem" being the escalating Vietnam war, the "civil 
rights" movement, all having become white-hot and naturally giving birth to 
various radicalisms.  I had, from 1965 - 67 spent two years and a few months 
in prison for refusing to go into the military (my actual charge was failure 
to fill out some forms having to do with this).  In Chicago prison was still 
a very recent and fresh memory.  I worked in a little office space with 
something called Newsreel, a radical filmmaking outfit which had sprung up 
across country in the previous year.  We were making a film about The Mobe.  

In the offices were numerous rather well-known rabble-rousers, radicals, 
politicos, among them Tom Hayden, future husband of Jane Fonda and liberal 
democratic something of California; Rennie Davis, a radical politico who 
later turned to guru Maharajee Jee, or something like that; Jerry Rubin, 
supposed yippee theatrical stage-manager, dressed in all the trappings of PR, 
who later transformed himself into a Wall Street advisor of some sort; Abbie 
Hoffman, perhaps a genuine anarchist who later went underground some years, 
and resurfaced a decade or two later, and later committed suicide; Dave 
Dellinger, an old-line sincere pacifist, and I think another few.  They 
intended a large comprehensive umbrella to represent and draw to Chicago 
diverse and often not really compatible groups.  

As it happened their organisational efforts failed, and not very many of the 
predicted 100,000 protestors showed up.  Instead the local corrupt city 
government of Mayor Daley, which worked by vote fraud and patronage (some 
dubious votes swung the 1960 election to Kennedy later known for bedding down 
with mafia girls) had a police department which fitting for the times was 
hyper-paranoid, and confronted with a pathetic gathering of protestors who 
did show up (maybe a thousand or so) went berserk, charging with batons and 
crazed, hitting whomever crossed their path over the head, running in private 
shops and homes.  This sparked a mainly local reaction of liberals, teenagers 
looking for some rumbling, and other sorts, and suddenly Chicago and the 
convention were BIG news.  I was intimately involved in it all, with a front 
row seat in the Mobe office.  In fact I and a friend were the premature, two 
weeks before the convention first busts of the whole affair: dressed in 
scummy hippy garb we had gone to the convention site to take a Bolex shot of 
the miniature White House Portico being built on the side of the convention 
building.  6 police cars swooped on us as we left, we were arrested, and 
interrogated by the precinct police, the Chicago "Red Squad" (an anti-left 
political squad I was accustomed to seeing parked out my apartment), then the 
FBI and finally the secret service.  The higher we went, the less they 
thought we were potential assassins.  We were released a day later.  

During the convention various big names came to lend support and I think 
stroke their own egos:  French playwright and writer Jean Genet, America's 
Norman Mailer.  They came to play radicals, giving hot speeches before the 
collected mass of kids all shouting "hey hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill 
today."  And so on.  It was major league theater, and thanks to the stupidity 
of the Chicago cops a failed demo toppled the democrats and sent Nixon to the 
White House.  So much for radical politics.

In the weeks before the convention Tom Hayden, hearing of my own story, said 
to me he didn't think he could do two years in prison.

At the end of the convention a farmer out in Illinois, who had watched all 
the excitement on TV and took pity on we poor demonstrators invited the Mobe 
office crew, including the famous Big Wigs, out to his farm for a 
post-convention barbeque and rest.  In the car I was in headed to the farm 
Rennie Davis sat beside me.  A big deal had been made by the Mobe and the 
press about an attack by the police on Rennie, who sported a white, bloodied 
bandage wrapped around his head.  In the car, the show over, he lifted this 
from his head like a hat, underneath of which there was no visible damage.  

Ever since then I have had a deep suspicion of all politicians, especially 
those who seemed to be the ones on "my side".  The future trajectories of 
those in the office seemed only to underline the element of fashion, 
opportunism, and, well, moral and I suppose other corruptions that went along 
with most of these people.

By way of which to say such things change little - places, names, 
particulars, yes; underlying human behaviours, no.

Just in case of interest.
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