Promoting the. Decline of the Rising State:
Documents of Resistance and Renewal from the Alternative Community: Buffalo, 1965-76
by Elwin H. Powell (Reprinted from Catalyst,1977)
Sidney Willhelm is right about the "Rise of State Rule". Capital is receding to a secondary role as the State assumes command of contemporary society. Social control, not production, is the main aim of this statist system. In the 1920s President Coolidge could say, "the business of America is business." Today, the business of America is war.
As an institution, the State has the task of preserving peace by waging war. Confronted by the dual threat of invasion and insurrection, the State deploys military force to ward off external attack, uses police power to suppress rebellion.1 But coercion alone is never enough to maintain order. To be effective the State's violence must be legitimated by value-consensus, naked power turned into authority. Like other institutions the State is an embodiment of an Idea shared by a collectivity of people. "What makes governments (States) exist?" asks Alexander Berkman:
The armies and navies? Yes, but only apparently so. What supports the armies and navies? It is the belief of the people, of the masses that government is necessary; it is the generally accepted idea of the need of government. That is the real and solid foundation of the State. Take that idea or belief away and no government could last another day.2
Why then do people feel a need for government, what function does the State perform? People turn to the State because it provides protection. Historically speaking, the social unit which affords security becomes the political State. For instance, as the Roman empire crumbled (circa 3rd to 6th century A.D.) uprooted people began to cluster around the country houses (villas) of wealthy Romans; there they found a shield from marauding bands of Roman soldiers.' Eventually the villa became the castle, the nucleus of feudal society. Around the 11th century the walled town reappeared as an urban commune, a virtual city-state. A liberated zone, the walled city offered protection from both barons and bandits. From the 14th to 18th century castle and town give way to the territorial State. On the circumference of the territory is a ring of fortresses: beyond the border rages the Hobbesian war of each against all but within this defended space, peace prevails.' Never secure, always anticipating war, each State strives for greater sufficiency by enlarging the area under its control: thus the inevitable clash of arms. The nation-states of the 19th century in pursuit of total security produced the disastrous wars of the 20th century and finally a suicidal military technology which, renders obsolete traditional defense structures, by-passes the protective shell of the state. Paradoxically utmost strength now coincides in the same unit with utmost vulnerability, absolute power with utter impotence . . . nothing short of global rule can satisfy the security interest of any one power . . . each superpower's logical objective is the destruction of the other. But this is not practical since thermonuclear warfare would involve one's own destruction, the means defeat the end. If this is so, then the short term objective of states must surely be mutual accommodation . . . Now that destruction threatens everybody, the common interest of all mankind is in sheer survival.'
By the mid 1950s others sensed what John Herz so well articulates: arms are not protective but self-threatening. With nuclear testing the State poisoned its own people as well as the 'enemy'. The empirical evidence was indisputable and in 1959 Linus Pauling collected signatures of 1500 scientists calling for a ban on the atmospheric testing of thermonuclear bombs. Thus the Peace Movement was born.
The State's effort to suppress the Peace Movement facilitated its growth. Pauling was attacked as a subversive: the FBI announced ominously that it was investigating to determine whether members of the Communist Party had signed or helped circulate Pauling's petition. Petition-signing in the 1950s was dangerous business, enough to cost the security clearance of a research worker - but by 1963 a million people had petitioned for a test-ban. Though harassed by Senator Thomas Dodd's Internal Security Committee, threatened wit1f legal action, smeared as a "Stalinist", purged from the board of the Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy, Pauling persisted in his one-man crusade to awaken the public to the dangers of the arms race. Along with other Nobel Prize winners Pauling was invited to dine with President and Mrs. Kennedy in 196 1. Before dining with the dignitaries, Pauling picketed the White House, carrying a huge sign calling for a test ban - a shocking breach of social custom in 1961 when proper people did not picket, parade or demonstrate. Passed by the Senate and signed by the President in July 1963, the test-ban treaty was the first official act of cooperation between the American and Russian government since 1945. The treaty symbolized an attenuation of the Cold War, and there are those who believe John Kennedy wrote his death warrant with it.
Gradually people were moving out of their private pigeon-holes into public space, into the streets. A trickle of people opposing war in the 1950s would become a flood in the '60s. As people stood up and said No! to the State an alternative community called the Movement emerged. A support system and a counter-culture, the Movement legitimated defection from the dominant society, the Establishment. Through antiwar protest people discovered each other, developed a new solidarity whence came a new consciousness. Peace demonstrations changed the demonstrators, if not always the decision makers who were watching them. And the demonstrations of the decade are a barometer of a changing socio-political climate. Washington as the prime symbol and locus of State authority drew the monster demonstrations. But even a provincial city like Buffalo, typical of the vast urban hinterland of this country, saw anti-war activity of a magnitude not known for half a century. Consider the simple statistics of Table 1:
Anti-War Demonstrations: 1959-1969
Date; Theme; Number
Other figures are press estimates of the Buffalo Evening News and the New York Times for date specified.
An Intelligence Agency would see in the statistics a rising tide of war-resistance. Not absolute but relative numbers are important: no antiwar activity in the 1950s, 1940s, 1930s, 1920s, except for small flares of pacifist agitation.' Only the 1910-20 decade would show mass protest comparable to the 1960s. This hypothetical Agency would also notice qualitative changes: in the 1950s the potential protester could be silenced by the insinuation that the FBI was watching. But by 1970 surveillance by the FBI was regarded as a sign of success - and a source of amusement. (Radical newspapers delighted in publishing photographs of agents perched in trees photographing demonstrators).
During the 1960s the Movement was undermining the legitimacy of the State. Vast numbers experienced the State not as a Protector but as an Enemy: the state sent young men to kill and die in Asia, jailed them for possessing a harmless vegetable, billy-clubbed them for wearing long hair. The young discovered the lie of the State in the innocent pastime of smoking marijuana: if authorities lied about the danger of pot perhaps patriotism too was a fraud? (Buffalo police busted people for possessing cigarette papers made in the form of an American flag, but that came too late to restore the honor of the State). And the seminal lie of the decade - that we were protecting democracy in South East Asia - was documented with Dan Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers in June, 1971. In his Introduction to the Pentagon Papers, Senator Mike Gravel quotes H. G. Wells:
The true strength of rulers and empires lies not in armies or emotions, but in the belief of men that they are inflexibly open and truthful and legal. As soon as a government departs from that standard, it ceases to be anything more than 'the gang in possession,' and its days are numbered .7
In bearing witness to the truth, the Movement compelled the State to reveal its lie. Complex, variegated, international in scope, the Movement has changed the spirit and even the structure of this country: eventually it brought an end to the draft and the war in Vietnam, it exposed the emerging police state, perhaps in time to avert '1984. Mitchell Goodman writes of the Movement as the "Beginning of a Long Revolution". Essentially the contest is between State and Community, an ongoing struggle, an evolution which can be seen in the four portraits of resistance from the city of Buffalo between 1965 and 1972. The first case involved the surveillance and harassment of a student leader, Rich Salter, one of the creators of Catalyst, who has continued to build the revolution in Canada after being driven from this country by the secret police. Next we deal with the epic struggle of Martin Sostre, a black bookseller who was framed, jailed, tortured for nearly nine years - and prevailed. Then we deal with the collective portrait of the Buffalo-9, a concerted effort of war-resistance, the symbol and nucleus of two years of defiance of State authority. And then the case of the BUFFALO, a pioneer effort in anarcho-pacifism, which undermines the State by the non-violent liberation of documents. Finally we consider "the reprieve from history" - from fascism - which these and other opponents of the State have won for us, temporarily.
C. The Buffalo-9 ... Organizing Resistance to State Authority (1970)
Strange alliances were forming in the mid-60s. After issuing a leaflet calling for "Revolutionary Reform", an outlaw motorcycle gang, The Road Vultures, held a "Psychedelic Summit Conference" with U.B. intellectuals, proclaimed solidarity, announced their commitment to the Supreme Value of Love, and declared war on the State in September, 1966.1' Students were picketing for wildcat steel strikers at the Bethlehem plant . . . Street blacks from the ghetto were coming to the campus, educating white radicals. 1966 saw sit-ins against the war and the draft on campus; SDS was building anti-draft unions throughout the country. In the summer of 1967 an estimated 30,000 students were working against the war in over 700 cities. On the UB campus in 1967-68 SDS meetings normally drew 100 to 300 people. And in 1968 liberals were pouring into the streets to work for Gene McCarthy.
In Buffalo, summer 1968 was a joyously ominous one. People were in the streets and actually talking to each other. The democratic convention had radicalized the McCarthy liberals. New Parties, organizations were emerging. There was a Peace and Freedom Party, overlapping with a small IWW chapter; there was YAWF and a flourishing SDS chapter, plus a strong Draft Resistance Union, Bruce Kline and Bruce Beyer took sanctuary in the Unitarian Church at Elmwood and Ferry. During the following 12 days several hundred people gathered around the church, talking, educating themselves, holding workshops, singing (Judy Collins appeared twice). But mainly people were talking. Elmwood is one of the few streets in Buffalo with a heavy walking traffic, and even a-political people were drawn into the church grounds and involved in the Vietnam dialogue. A virtual Wallacite, Ray Malek, came to jeer and left a member of SDS. Old and young, black and white, mingled. Right wing pickets advertised the sanctuary with signs: "Napalm Hanoi" . . . and "Keep Marx out of Church". Concealed on the third floor across the street cameramen from the FBI filmed the whole proceeding.
Had the State ignored it, the sanctuary would have withered away in boredom, September cold would soon drive the people from the church yard. Why not let the two draft-resistors rot? Or arrest them on some pretext after the crowds had melted away? But no; that solution was too simple. Instead of patiently waiting, federal marshalls with chains stormed the sanctuary on August 19. They violently arrested Beyer and Kline and seven others who just happened to be local radical leaders: Jerry Gross of YAWF; Karl Kronenberg of Peace and Freedom Party-, Bill Berry who had recently burned his draft card in Boston; Ray Malek, the new recruit to SDS.
Thus the Buffalo-9 was born out of a common police attack: that alone unified these disparate elements. These people had apparently been targeted for arrest before the marshalls invaded the sanctuary. For two years the case of the Buffalo-9 would be a cause celebre and an integrating symbol of the local resistance movement.
Making a political trial out of their case, the Buffalo 9 took the offensive in court. They tried to put the government on trial, hoped to make the community of Buffalo and ultimately the court speak out on an already absurd, immoral, illegal war. The Nine were first tried in February, 1969 and then re-tried the following October. On March 21, 1969 the principal figure in the Buffalo-9, Bruce Beyer, was sentenced to 3 years for "assaulting a federal officer" not of course for refusing to answer or honor a-draft-board summons. At his sentencing Beyer said prophetically to Federal Judge John Curtin:
"There are going to be more people like me standing be
fore you - and I can only draw the analogy between this situation and the German courts of World War 11, who were sentencing pickpockets while genocide was being committed against 8 million Jews" (UB: Spectrum, March 21, 1969).
After Beyer's sentencing, 400 supporters carrying signs and banners marched to Lafayette Square, burned an effigy of the judge. New arrests were made, two of whom were to become leaders in the 1970 UB strike. On campus, the Defense Departments Project Thernis was attacked in reprisal for Beyer's sentence. (Some $2,000 damage was done to a Thernis tool shed.). Several hundred students occupied Hayes Hall, renamed it Beyer Hall, flew the Black Flag of Anarchy from the belfry. A brilliant, unsigned Spectrum editorial of March 21, 1969 tells the tale:
Ring Dem Bells
"The Butler bells, dangling in the pinnacle atop "Beyer Hall", rang all night Wednesday. 150 helmeted Buffalo blueshirts silenced them Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon the bells - donated ironically enough by the owner of the Buffalo Evening News and WBEN - began ringing again. The clock remained stuck at twelve, its bells ringing uncontrollably, unable to move its hands, not knowing whether it was noon or midnight, darkness or day.
That's how we feel, like that big weatherbeaten clockface, looking with that same blank inscrutability in all four directions.
The cops finally came. Didn't prove too much. We knew that if we pushed hard enough, the blueshirts would eventually appear. The response to the 'demands' never came. We knew it most likely never could.
Actions speak louder than words: the destruction of Themis; the smashing of a window; a building renamed; panic in a crowded room; the block long line of police; the police escort of a president; the issuance of a court order.
The revolution has still not come; we realize now that it is something which has been happening and will continue to happen; it was felt before it was thought.
Two days' activity has not polarized people; it has rather brought closer to the surface the polarities within us and among us.
We must accept' the fact that order is a thing of the past, that stability is an obscenity.
Braking actions can only be viewed by a movement as repressive, and it is therefore not surprising that liberals end up using repressive mechanisms to "slow things down a little". Wednesday's lesson, however, is that repression actually functions as an accelerating, rather than a decelerating force.
So the pig~ have come and gone - perhaps to return another day.
It's not a stable place they have left. Neither is it particularly promising, except that it is certainly active. We must embrace this energy and realize its exciting potential for within it les our only hope.
Before, as a friend once said, it makes pigs of all 67 us."
1969 . . . what an incredible year, a continuous teach-in! Huge faculty meeting in Kleinhans Music Hall to vote on Gabriel Kolko's resolution banning D.O.D. research. Failed. Agitation against Thernis and ROTC persists, escalates. Summer brings Woodstock and the beginnings of what John Sinclair later called I culture war". Conference on Political Repression in late September on campus in preparation for the second trial of the Buffalo-9; there I heard that a colleague Jim Crotty had been savagely beaten by the police. The story I doubted until I talked personally to Jim: he showed me bruises on his back and legs and arms, still visible a week after the event; told me how he and two students had been jailed, held 18 hours incommunicado, threatened with murder - a cop held a straightedge razor to his throat for hours, taunting him. After the private talk with Jim I listened more intently to the speakers at the conference. Flo Kennedy, a brilliant, black lawyer, was telling people to get rid of their "horizontal hostility", that is, quit 'vamping on each other'; said she supported every group to the left of the KKK because it was all one struggle, said we had "to learn to piss up and not down" that she didn't fight anyone smaller than CBS, against whom she then had a legal suit of several million dollars in an effort to raise money for the Black Panther Party. Then there was Preacherman of the Young Patriots, a "Redneck" who had just come back from a speaking trip in the South with Bobby Lee, a member of the Panthers; Preacherman was saying "you can jail a revolutionary but you can't jail the revolution." Talking privately with these young radicals late into the night I learned that they really were laying their lives on the line. Most of them had received anonymous murder threats - from the FBI, I wonder?
No longer the 'play life' of the class room. For choosing to defy, the authority of the State these people, the principal actors in the case of the Buffalo-9, would face jail, exile, even the threat of death. Two months later Bobby Lee would be wounded when the police killed Fred Hampton in Chicago. Ray Malek and Bill Yates would do three years in federal prison, another Brother would do a month in Attica, Bruce Beyer would do years in exile in Sweden and Canada. All would be harassed and hounded by the police. One Buffalo-9 defendant, Karl Kronenberg, was arrested and the police carved a peace symbol on his stomach, or chest (or so my notes read; I have not verified the story).
Extraordinary time, October, 1969. My notes read:
Oct. 15. Incredible day. 9:15 cycled to school, to Project Themis adjacent to Capen Hall, Medical school building. SDS people had asked me to talk. Fred Shell had already spoken. I climbed up on a woodpile and took the bullhorn, nervous, not like a lecture hall before captive students. Tried to say that University and Thernis directors had committed violence to truth last year . . . told us the project had nothing to do with war then Gabriel Kolko revealed that they justified themselves to the House Appropriations Committee on grounds that the project was militarily useful . . . this was a greater violence than people tearing down a shed last year at the project. But be grateful to Thernis as a concretization of the military-industrial complex, let this pile of stone stand as a monument to official stupidity, a reminder of the violence of the State which would someday be changed by the People. But the next speaker thought Thernis should be blown up like the statue of the cop in Haymarket Square. This young guy from Chicago tells of being kicked in the balls by the pigs in Chicago and concludes with the slogan, "The only direction is insurrection; The only solution is revolution. "
Then to town at noon. Niagara Square is full of people . . . 5,000 or so, a sea of Red flags. The Red flag had even flown briefly from the top of city hall. We march, circling the Courthouse and then the old Federal building, the Post office. I run into my lawyer, a liberal Republican, establishment type. What did he think? Extraordinary. What would he estimate the crowd? 5,000. Would it do any good, I asked. It was bound to, he said.
Student-friend tells me at lunch that the "cadres" are ready to move this afternoon, to be on campus around 5. Had no idea what he meant.
I go to Norton Hall around 3. Notice a throng at TV set, then shouts, we won, we won. I said to Sid Willhelm, "My God the Viet Cong won the war." But it turns out that it was the Mets winning the World Series.
To movies in the Fillmore room. The radicals are showing films made by the ROTC . . . 82 per cent of officers in services are ROTC grads; U.S. Armed Forces can't survive without ROTC. Audience cheers. Another film on Vietnam. but I am afraid I slept through it.
Then an SDS leader is talking of love and honesty and how now he is forced to act, that they were going to smash ROTC, so about 100 of them start for the ROTC office in Clark Gym, a block away, across campus. Sid and I stroll out the north door of Norton; no hurry as we only expected more speeches. When we reach the quadrangle in front of Norton we see a puff of black smoke. Young guy in the quad reading a book looks up and says, "Oh, wow, they're burning ROTC. Incredible . . . and then returns to his book. Sid and I walk over to the ROTC, watch campus cops put out the remains of the fire. ROTC files had been taken out of the building and set afire. Looked like secondary file - only printed matter, brochures, etc. I notice a half burned copy of Ramparts magazine. Makes you wonder . . .
Around 8 this evening we go to Delaware Park . . . truly beautiful, inspiring experience. Candies, soft singing, warm feeling, solidarity. Ray Malek made a good speech about how he had gotten involved, had no politics before the Buffalo-9. Then the leader of the Grape Boycott. And a guy from Revolutionary Youth Movement, praising ROTC burnings. Then a campus SDS leader with the same rap. Apparently they hadn't wanted him to speak but he quietly took the mike anyway.
Then a march down Lincoln Parkway to Delaware to Ferry to the Unitarian Church. In-the windows of almost all the houses on the way were candles as a sign of approval of our march. Bruce Beyer spoke at the Church. Chatted with L., who is bitching because people could not understand that imperialism is the enemy. He was depressed. But if he could have seen Buffalo ten years ago. As Professor K said in the line downtown, "This sure as hell beats those Easter Sundays with SANE, doesn't it?"
The Movement is creating a new community. Everyone is talking to everyone. Sometimes I feel like I'm in my home town, Plainsview, Texas. News commentators are saying the country has not been so divided in 110 years. I doubt that Buffalo has ever had this much mass action, street action on a political issue. And this is happening all over the country, literally millions of people in the streets protesting the war, as even the banner headlines of the Buffalo Evening News concede. So the war is uniting, not dividing, the people; uniting them against the ruling class. And the ruling class itself may be dividing. Media and official spokesmen are digging their own graves by distorting the news, underplaying the significance.
The Movement is drawing out the creativity of people . . . The Buffalo Mime Troupe, the new conceptual theatre so called . . . was performing improvisations on war in front of the Albright-Knox Museum when I stopped by there at 11.30 tonight. A black and white acting out the themes of violence and love surrounded by a circle of 15 young men and women acting as a chorus.
When I left the park at midnight I passed the Lincoln statue and fifty candles were left burning in front of it. The park empty and dark now and the night the loveliest of the autumn and tears of great joy came momentarily to my eyes.
I had been looking for my son Jim (aged 12) and when I got home I found him bursting with pride. He had marched in the first line and hollered himself hoarse with Peace-Now chants.
Did this outpouring of the people into the streets influence decision-makers in Washington? Probably not. But it influenced the participants. 5,000, maybe 10,000 people were in the streets that day, some of them for the first time, ever; some of them were older, straight people who had never demonstrated before.
On campus the attack on ROTC brought perfunctory condemnation from officials but no sense of outrage. "Blackest day in university history" said one Vice President. But SDS easily turned that definition around: "Black is Beautiful". The ROTC burning was the work of Mad Vandals, said another university official; the radicals tried to turn the idea into a self fulfilling prophecy, as revealed in this leaflet:
GETTING OUT OF LIMBO
We've been in limbo at UB for a long time.. In learning to accept our classrooms, in learning to accept the legitimacy of the institutions that we live under and the labels that accompany them (Professor, Administrator, Leader . . .), in learning to accept the purposelessness that pervades any stay in the prison-like space of Norton Union, it becomes almost effortless to accept the presence of ROTC on this campus as normal, its destruction as insane.
We can no longer let these definitions stand. We must define for ourselves what is liberating, what is destructive. Women Against ROTC's (W.A.R.) showed that realities can be reversed, that we can invade an inhuman reality. The raid of the Mad Vandals showed concretely that we can stop the functioning of ROTC on this campus. We must all become Mad Vandals until inhuman and brutal realities are abolished. joining the struggle of the Vietnamese as true brothers and sisters, we must aid that struggle in a real way, By Any Means Necessary!
Out of the libraries stride the slaughterers. The mothers stand Clutching their children, and Stare searching the skies numbly for the inventions of scholars.
The State, however, is not quite ready to capitulate. On October 21 the verdict came in on the Buffalo-9. Rose, Berry and Kronenberg, acquitted; Gross, hung jury; Malek and Yates, convicted. A former English instructor and now a full time radical, Bill Yates, 40ish, was arrested eight months after the sanctuary at the church. He was arrested in the courthouse immediately after testifying favorably for Bruce Beyer in the first trial of the Buffalo-9. Jerry Gross was the young radical who had published the letters of Martin Sostre, worked so valiantly to mobilize support for Sostre. Because I am ashamed of my fear I quote directly from my notebook of Oct. 21, 1969:
Because I am ashamed of my fear I quote directly from my notebook of Oct. 21, 1969:
"Large crowd - 100 ish - picketing federal building immediately after the verdict. I marched with them awhile, then went in for coffee in a cafe on court street, sat at a window where I could observe. Saw plainclothesmen come up and quietly take Jerry Gross away - all very official. Jerry (freed by hung jury) was doing nothing at all but chanting with the rest of the crowd. After his removal, the crowd started chanting, "Free Gross, Off the Pigs".
Watching the removal of Gross I had that helpless feeling of good men in fascist states. My impulse was to walk up to the officers - how dare you! Or at least, "Please, officers, you can't take away a fellow citizen" . . . Then remembering Jim Crotty's bruised back I realized I could be arrested too, made the target for future harassment. Then the rationalizations: really I am more useful to the Movement on the campus . . . and after all Jerry does have a good lawyer, Bill Myers, as well as a wife and party (YAWF) to look after his interests.
What was Gross booked for? Possession of a dangerous drug. Pot? No, Dristram, a nasal decongestant sold without prescription. As a 'good liberal' in 1969 1 could not see the connection between the drug police and the political police, but recent FJ31 documents tell the story. A memo from J. Edgar Hoover himself tells the story:
Since the use of marijuana . . . is widespread among members of the New Left, you should be alert to opportunities to have them arrested by local authorities on drug charges. Any information concerning fact that individuals have marijuana . . . should be immediately furnished to local authorities and they should be encouraged to take action" (The Militant, Feb. 6, 1976).
And if they don't use marijuana like Jerry Gross? Then bust them for Dristran or plant heroin on the premises, as in the case of Martin Sostre. Will absurdity undermine the State? Let me reconstruct the Zeitgeist by unedited quotation from my journal in 1969:
October 29. Yesterday 100 demonstrators attacked ROTC and broke up the drill session with non-violent ridicule. The demonstrators marching beside the ROTCs, inviting them to join the demo, had even the cadets laughing so that finally the unit could not function. The 'attack' was led by a long haired, bearded Yippie named Amos who came with a bow and a sheaf of arrows. Ridicule is more effective than violence because it causes the actor to question what he is doing and thereby immobilizes him.
Two Panthers talked at a rally for Sostre last night . . . Everyone is colonized in this country (they say) but the pigs Rockefeller and Hunt, the big bourgeoisie . . . Robert Williams' return to Babylon had won him respect. Panthers were sacrificing themselves to teach the people; going to be ripped off, either dead or put in the joint by J. Edgar Hog . . . Local black woman, tells of the indictment of a 17-year-old black guy who had come forward to testify for Martin Sostre.
November 1. White radicals mimic Panther styles; post guards at their meetings in Norton. Guerrilla theatre but needlessly provocative. Guards wear armbands with slogan ARMED LOVE. Communist slogans sprayed in red paint on all the buildings. Super-proletarians want to "Smashthemotherfuckingrulingclass'. But my favorite is a neatly lettered anarchist sign in College A: FUCK HATE.
Nov. 10, 1969. Saturday night heard Abbie Hoffman in the Fillmore Room. Marvellous. Overflow audience - 2,000 . . . says the Chicago 8 was convicted because there is no evidence against them, thus their conviction would be even more intimidating to others. Deterrent theory; makes sense . . . same patterns as the Buffalo 9 locally. Hoffman warned that there was little hope in appeal; political cases are never reversed - the Rosenbergs, Sacco and Vanzetti. His only hope is to get people into the streets. Trials have nothing to do with justice; only power . . .
Monday morning went to sentencing of Bill Yates and Ray Malek. Both got 3 years; will appeal. Both made speeches to the court. Bill said that he had given up his white skin privileges to identify with the oppressed of the world, said that he was not a criminal but a revolutionary . . . POWER TO THE PEOPLE, and a strong clenched fist to the court, answered by the spectators in the court room rising and repeating the gesture.
Ray's speech was angry, less controlled. Said the charges were ridiculous - which they were, of course - denounced as a 'slimy pig', Marshall Alvin Grossman, who had arrested the people at the sanctuary. Ray explains that the pigs are corporation executives, cops, etc., and ended by saying that the most eloquent denunciation of the system had come from Bruce Beyer on August 18, 1968: "The system stinks."
So Ray and Bill would spend 3 years in Allenwood Federal Penitentiary for the awful crime of impeding arrest. Their real crime was refusing to stand for the judge, and thus a contempt-of-court citation. Strong State indeed! "Stick and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt". Wow. That is what really terrifies the State, especially, it seems, the word Pig. Ray Malek had called Judge Henderson a pig, and for that he got three years. None of the Buffalo-9 were ever charged with damaging property or injuring a person. Not even the prosecution charged that the arresting officers had been physically hurt by the resisting Peaceniks at the church. But the State could not allow itself to lose face either in Buffalo or Vietnam.
As the State loses authority it turns increasingly to violence and fraud to sustain its rule. Caught up in the grand themes of geopolitics radicals were not paying enough attention to the linkage between the University and the Police Intelligence system. Observing rightist professors taking names of students at campus demonstrations, I wrote in my notebook of November 5, 1969:
Is it better to have university personnel . . . playing cop, or to have real cops on campus? Not an easy question. I fear the real cops - and the people behind them, FBI, the Federal Department of Justice - may be planning a push against college radicals. Today at MIT they moved in on demonstrators, apparently in opposition to the will of the school . . . If we knew just what the police-establishment was up to, in the way we knew what the military establishment was up to when the Vietnam war was escalating, we might forestall dire consequences. Knowledge is power. How then do we get knowledge of the police system . . . The military system is actually more accountable, less secretive than the police system. The press forces them to explain their views; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has smoked out a lot of information. The military has to explain itself to Congress and Senate to get its money. But there is no comparable surveillance of the police apparatus. Public outcry against the military in part derived from the fact that 'innocent' Americans were being drafted and killed. But no one will rise to the defense of 'guilty' Americans - and the guilty are those who have police records. People who break the law deserve no sympathy. Last year there were 4,000 arrests on campuses - mainly drug busts. But public approves of drug laws. If you don't -want to get arrested, don't smoke pot. You are free to smoke pot, but you must pay the consequences. A different logic than "if you don't want to go into the army, don't be 20 years old." If you don't want to get arrested, don't go to demonstrations. Resist the draft and you go to coum resist the police and you go immediately to jail.
Still, the only antidote to police repression is exposure. It will take more courage to face the police than the military. It will produce anxiety because we will not know what we face. The uniformed police are not hard to face; they're like an army. But the secret police, the informer - that is the real deterrent, the real terror. Get one person to publicly inform on the movement and distrust will spread. Make people feel it is their duty to inform and they will inform on themselves. Trick them into informing and then they will never trust anyone - not even themselves.
The trick will be the prime symbol of the Nixon years.
Nixon will try to goad the left into violence. How can the silent majority prove its patriotism? By attacking the left. Lunatic YAFers are already talking about occupying SDS offices; probably sending out threatening letters, like the ones received here. The Minute Men will be unleashed. No problem there; just fail to restrain them. Orders do not have to come down saying to attack the left. It will be enough merely for high officialdom of the FBI, etc. to send out directives on the grave dangers of revolution and the need to step up surveillance. Already there are recommendations for increasing police appropriations to 10 billion a year.
Above written yesterday (Nov. 5, 1969) is confirmed by news hints today. Officials say parade permit may be withheld on November 14-15 in Washington because of the danger demonstrators might surround the White House. The Pentagon is said to be alarmed and will have 28,000 troops standing by.
In 1969 there was no solid documentation that the FBI was acting as a political police force and already deeply immersed in a strategy of provocation. The Left tricked itself: we supposed there was an autonomous Right wing - the John Birch Society, Minutemen, YAF - making war on the Left. In actuality there was almost no right wing in Buffalo - not more than 20 to 40 people in the area were participants in rightist groups. The FBI itself mobilized the attack on the Movement; in other cities it may have used the indigenous rightist elements, pushing them into an attack on the left. But more often it hired criminals to do its dirty work. SDS leaders claimed to have received threatening phone calls and letters; I tried at the time to run down the stories. Oddly enough the right wing was always blamed but rarely was the FBI. For instance Professor X, one of the most respected and militant members of the Radical Caucus, on November 2, 1969:
told me he had received a threatening telephone call over the Themis thing. With students he had discussed holding a seminar inside the Themis grounds on Oct. 15. Several planning sessions were held; they finally rejected the seminar idea because it abetted others to violate the law. While X was in one of the sessions his wife called to him about the phone call she received. The caller said to her, "Tell your husband not to follow up on the Themis plan or we will kill him." X told the other people in the session about the call. He told me he had thought about taking it to the FBI, asking where is my protection. My guess is that the call came from the FBI. X seemed . . . to think it was a crank call. But would cranks know about X? How can this be checked out? Are other people getting crank calls? Must be someone in Fred's group passing info to FBI. How would FBI know of earlier Thernis plans?
But in November, 1969 it was still an Open Revolution. On the 15th a million protestors flooded the streets of Washington, waved Red Flags at the Justice Department. Martha Mitchell said it was just like the Russian Revolution, which delighted everyone but her husband. In Buffalo everything was being overthrown, even the Sociology Department - an educational experience for all concerned. December 1969 was one long caucus; tension mounts in January and erupts in late February, 1970. From my notes:
March 5, 1970. For nine days the conflict has been escalating toward chaos. On Feb. 24 Blacks and white radicals stopped a basketball game, literally ran on to the court and grabbed the ball. Police then cleaned out Norton Union arresting 12 to 20 people injuring Janet Cohen badly enough to require a weeks' hospitalization for a slipped disc. The next day, Wednesday, 100 police returned, but retreated before a semi organized group of several hundred students. Billed as tactical victory for the student radicals. Strike meetings followed. I went to two in Tower Hall, with some 2 to 3,000 in attendance, where there was some wild talk of, in effect, burning the place down. Windows were smashed during the week. Monday afternoon Mar. 2 there was an assembly of some 5,000 in Clark Gym. The Strike leadership almost blew it by refusing to let the opposition speak. After opposition was heard the group voted almost unanimously (5,000 to 100) for the strike. Peaceful pickets went on the next 2 days and today, Thursday, 5 Mar., pickets blocked Hayes Hall - it was called a peaceful blockade - refusing access to administrators and students. The strike had about petered out at this juncture. But now the administration is out for blood. Announced suspension of 20 students in violation of an injunction. Some 20 to 30 of us in Radical Faculty Caucus cancelled classes in support of strike.
March 13. . . the attack on capitalism is growing but capitalists themselves do not know it, like the Czars who thought people loved them. But I am not sure capitalism is the enemy. I rather live under Nixon than some of the 'revolutionaries' I know around here . . . The capitalist class - the ruling class of the US - may itself be losing touch with reality. If you've got power you don't need brains; hence you misread the real situation and lose your power - is that the dynamic of Pareto's circulation of elites? The University of Buffalo may be a microcosm of the larger society. Here the 'rulers' thought the majority of the people, i.e., students, were on their side; that the trouble was caused only the 'vicious few' as UB President Reagan put it. Hence the police were called on campus last Sunday morning - March 7 - 400 of them. This brought mass meetings of students and faculty
liberal faculty people I had not seen all year around Norton showed up that Sunday afternoon. After speeches and grave nervous talk the entire assemblage of some 5 to 6,000 people marched around campus and around Hayes Hall, a solemn protest against the police invasion.
Who called the cops; rather, why were they called? Peter Reagan the acting President was made the fall guy for the decision, but he was only obeying higher authorities . . . somewhere in the Castle in Albany . . . or Washington even? By March 7 the strike was melting away, students were leaving for Spring vacation; the local crisis did not warrant 400 policemen to control it. The police presence did not pacify but aggravated the turmoil. Blue uniformed patrols in groups of 12 or so marching around campus all day and night for several weeks. Cops were decent guys, individually, not pigs - the pigs were the decision makers who put them in this lousy role. Their presence was a provocation. All that week from March 7 to 15 there were battles between police and students. Jerry Rubin spoke on campus on Tuesday; the situation was cooled for fear of getting him in trouble for inciting to riot. But on Wednesday night violence broke out again. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were quiet, but on Sunday 45 faculty were arrested at a peaceful sit-in at Reagan's office.
March 16 . . . The radicals see it as class war, the conservatives as classroom war. Liberals and conservatives (as distinct from radicals) delude themselves with the hope the trouble is located exclusively with a handful of unruly school boys (and girls). Harmony can be restored, they think, by the elimination of the radicals . . . The Sociology Department is afraid of epitaphs and insults, more concerned with dirty words than police on campus.
The rhetoric of violence is pervasive. Slogans are scribbled all over Norton: "if you want peace, prepare for class war." The slogans - Off the Pigs - are fading, new ones appearing. "Burn a bank and save a village."
But I can't seem to locate the source of the violent talk. The radical leadership from last fall - those who are still around -are trying to cool it. X was arrested on a Molotov cocktail charge - totally false, I'm sure. The leader of YAWF was arrested at 3 a.m. yesterday morning. A warrant is out for Bruce Beyers' arrest; he has gone underground I hear, never stays in a single place, is constantly on the move. Supposedly there are over 100 warrants for arrest out now - the exact date of these notes is not known, it's sometime in late March:
In talking with leftists I implore them not to lie, even about capitalism, even about militarism. We cannot afford to misrepresent either ourselves or the other side. If we do not retain an Absolute commitment to truth we will all go mad. Here again I think of Sid Willhelm's emphatic refusal to indulge in the pleasures of self deception.
Leftist melodrama, the silly talk of violence from the Weatherpeople has predisposed the whole country to believe the left is behind every bombing which occurs. Thus the left is set up for a monumental frame up. The English Department buildings were fire bombed two weeks ago. No one on the left could understand this; English is the one department which has overwhelmingly supported the strike. Innocents! Probably done by police provocateurs . . . The Faculty Club was fire bombed. Why assume this comes from the left rather than the undercover police . . . Downtown the Lafayette Hotel is bombed, and everyone on campus is asking, why would the left do that? Makes no sense. The building has no symbolic meaning, like a bank or a corporate headquarters. It could have been done by the lunatic right, or the police, of CIA, or counter-insurgents of some kind, who wanted to create an incident, further alarm the public so as to build a consensus for the suppression of the left. Norton Union was subject to several bomb threats during the day. Roger Cook and I were talking about it in the Rathskellar. The bomb threats are now so common at Norton that most people do not even bother to leave the building when warned to do so.
Radicals were the targets but not the perpetrators of violence. The radical leadership consistently opposed violence as tactically incorrect and pragmatically unwise. No radical on campus was indicted for the commission of a violent crime. In countless hours of informal conversation we never heard anyone seriously propose the use of violence as a strategy in the current conflict. None of the UB radicals identified with the Weatherpeople. Nor were the radicals into anonymous phone calls. Since we now have evidence that the FBI used the anonymous letter as a weapon against dissidents, it is easy to believe that employees of that organization could be responsible for the Norton bomb threats. And to make the threat credible why not lob a fire bomb into the Faculty club, or the buildings of the English Department? We have fairly persuasive oral evidence of one case where a Treasury department agent attempted to induce a local, half-demented right-winger to store sticks of dynamite in his house.
How much did the Intelligence apparatus of the State know about the "revolution" on campus in spring 1970? It knew nothing - but it was inundated with information. For instance, Military Intelligence (MI) had one agent travelling in each of the some 30 police cars patrolling the area, and local law enforcement agencies passed to MI some 1,000 names of 'alleged' campus militants. In June and July, 1970 Grand jury investigated the campus uprising, took testimony from 57 witnesses. Curiously, no indictments came down; not a single radical was charged with unlawful activity. Perhaps because a court trial would expose the Intelligence network?
May 1970 saw the Cambodian incursion, murders at Jackson State and Kent State, which sent thousands of UB students surging down Main Street, breaking bank windows. Provocateurs stirred up trouble at Kent State; were they also at work in Buffalo? In June 1970 Buffalo police would disrupt and disperse the crowds of the Allentown Art Festival in the downtown Hippie-Bohemian area, which was sprayed with tear gas like the campus earlier. The 'culture war' was underway: the police as the internal army of the Dominant Society easily defeated the hippie vanguard of the counter-culture on the field of battle. But the freaks wrote the history - a small book called Frustration Politics - which pinned the blame on the cops, and thus drove one more nail into the coffin of State authority.
Summer 1970. Two years and a 'revolution' since a couple of young 'draft resisters' took sanctuary in the Unitarian Church and with the help of the cops created the Buffalo-9. What had been accomplished?
(1) People were beginning to live in communes and collectives, build 'food conspiracies', co-ops, free schools, even free stores. The Free Store in Allentown where people could deposit and pick up clothes, furniture, miscellaneous goods, was built by young IWWs and later burned to the ground by the cops. Why would they care, we wondered at the time . . . and still wonder, though perhaps it was the work of the Commune and New Left Division of the FBI.
(2) People were learning to talk to each other, to write leaflets, publish underground papers, organize.
(3) They had learned how to stop an institution - the University - from carrying on small business as usual. Radicals compelled the university to take a stand on the war - the University officially endorsed Moratorium Day November 15, 1969 and finally voted ROTC off campus in Spring 1970 - and to communalize bureaucratic procedures. Students gained representation on university committees, and there was a brief revival of the vision of the university as a Community of Scholars, of Faculty and Students as equal participants in the pursuit of learning.
(4) People learned to confront the violence of the State, without panic, tested their courage; had watched 400 cops patrol the campus for weeks on end. Despite macho talk of Armed Love it was plain that the State had all the big battalions -and after Kent State no one doubted that the functionaries of the State would shoot even their own children. The violence of the State proved the efficacy of the Non-Violence of the Movement.
By autumn 1970 the amateurs were becoming pros. Rhetoric subsided. Many new left revolutionaries moved into old left (marxist) formations. SDS died though the corpse was preserved by Progressive Labor Party. And the anarchopacifists were developing the subtlest strategy to come out of the antiwar movement.
"You don't destroy government by setting fire to the White House," said Alexander Berkman in 1929. "To think of revolution in terms of violence and destruction is to misinterpret and falsify the whole idea of it. When Bakunin speaks of revolution as destruction, he has in mind the idea of authority and obedience which are to be destroyed. it is for this reason that he said that destruction means construction, for to destroy a false belief is indeed most constructive work." 20
Government is an idea, not a thing. Not the building but the document contains the idea, which runs the machinery of State. When the State is losing legitimacy, when it is no longer supported by the consent of the governed, then it resorts to secrecy and deceit. Document the duplicity of the State and paralysis will ultimately follow.
Thus a group, calling itself the BUFFALO entered the offices of the draft board and military Intelligence to liberate the documents of the State, and thereby moved the Revolution to a higher plane.
1. Elwin H. Powell, The Design of Discord: Studies of Anomie (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1970), ch. 9 "Anomie and Arms: Toward a Sociology of War", pp. 135-42. el passim.
2. Alexander Berkman, The ABCs of Anarchism (London: Freedom Press, 1971), p. 35. First published in 1929.
3. Elwin H. Powell, "Anomic and Force: The Case of Rome", Catalyst (Summer, 1969), pp. 79-101. of. Ramsay MacMullen, Enemies of the Roman Order: Treason, Unrest and Alienation in the Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), pp. 192-96.
4. Frederic C. Lane, "The Economic Consequences of Organized Violence," Journal of
Economic History, 18 (December, 1958), pp. 401-17.
5. John H. Herz, "The Rise and Demise of the Territorial State," World Politics, 9 (July 1957),p. 473.
6. However, antiwar people within the establishment became chief targets for harrassment by Richard Nixon, Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover in the late 1940s: namely, Alger Hiss, a Quaker and Director of Carnegie Peace Foundation, and Senator Millard Tydings, a strong advocate of disarmament. Both had been connected with the Nye Committee of the 1930s which investigated war profiteering (Merchants of Death) in World War 1. Hiss was felled by Nixom Tydings by Joe McCarthy.
7. The Senator Gravel Edition, The Pentagon Papers: The Defense Department Hislorjv of United
States Decisionmaking on Vietnam, Vol. I (Boston: Beacon Press, 197 1), p. IX.
8. Mitchell Goodman, The Movement Toward a Aleu, America: The Beginnings of a Long
Revolution, (New York, 1970), p. xi.
9. Pat Watters and Stephen Gillers, eds. Investigating the FBI (New York: Ballantine Books,
10. Terry Pollack, "Slow Leak in the Pentagon (and the CIA and the State Dept. and the White House and . . . )" Ramparts (January 1973), pp. 21-26~ pp. 49 50.
11. Letlersfrom Prison A compilation of Marlin Sostre's Correspondence from Frie County jail, Buffalo, New York and Green Haven Prison, Stormville, New York, (Buffalo: Philosophical Society of SUNY/B, 1968), pp. 29- 3 1.
12. Ibid., p. 25.
13. Ibid., p. 23
14. Ibid, p. 32.
15. ]but., p. 55-56.
16. Ibid., p. 57.
17. Don Shamblin, "Brotherhood of Rebels: An Analvsis of a Motorcycle Outlaw Contraculture" (Buffalo: Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, 1970) for a fascinating studv.
18. John T. Elliff, "The Scope and Basis of FBI Data Collection," in Watters and Gillers, Investigating the FBI, pp. 247-53.
20. Berkman, op. cit., P. 44 1.
2 1. Peter Kropotkin, TbeSlale. lis Historic Role (London: Freedom Press, 1969), p. 56.
22. Robert Wall, "Why I Got Out of It," in Investigating the FBI, pp. 336-350.
23. Alvin Gouldner, Enter Plato: Classical Greece and the Origins of Social Theory, (New York: Basic Books. 1965).
24. Winslow Peck, "U.S. Electronic Espionage: A Memoir", Ramparts, (August, 1972), p. 50.
See also Ellsberg's co-conspirator Anthony Russo, "Inside the RAND Corporation and Out: My
Story", Ramparts, (April, 1972) pp. 46-55.
25. Pollack, op. cit., p. 24-25.
26. Daniel Ellsberg, Papers on the War, (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1972), pp. 39; 277; 285.
28. Joe McGuinniss, "The Ordeal of Daniel Ellsberg, Playboy, (October, 1972), pp. 97-98; 192Ÿ200.
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