May 31st, 2006

Be careful what you wish for: the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention riots and their aftermath

In a recent post, I mentioned the antiwar demonstrations and resultant police brutality at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. I now want to expand on some thoughts connected with those events.

In Chicago, Mayor Daley’s police did in fact go on an unwarranted and well-documented rampage. Until then, the rank and file of antiwar protestors had felt somewhat protected by the relative safety of demonstrations in this country. Chicago 1968 changed that perception, even though no one was killed (but that sorrowful eventuality was less than two years in the future, at Kent State).

This contemporaneous article from Time magazine (hardly a right-wing fringe publication) discusses the intent of the leaders of the 1968 Chicago Convention demonstrations:

[The protestors] left Chicago more as victors than as victims. Long before the Democratic Convention assembled, the protest leaders who organized last week’s marches and melees realized that they stood no chance of influencing the political outcome or reforming “the system.” Thus their strategy became one of calculated provocation. The aim was to irritate the police and the party bosses so intensely that their reactions would look like those of mindless brutes and skull-busters. After all the blood, sweat and tear gas, the dissidents had pretty well succeeded in doing just that.

Some demonstrators came prepared; defensively:

…many were equipped with motorcycle crash helmets, gas masks (purchasable at $4.98 in North Side army-navy surplus stores), bail money and anti-Mace unguents.

And a few, offensively:

A handful of hard-liners in the “violence bag” also carried golf balls studded with spikes, javelins made of snow-fence slats, aerosol cans full of caustic oven-cleaning fluids, ice picks, bricks, bottles, and clay tiles sharpened to points that would have satisfied a Cro-Magnon bear hunter.

The leaders were also prepared:

Most of the protest leaders stayed in the background. Mobilization Chairman David Tyre Dellinger, 53, the shy editor-publisher of Liberation, who led last fall’s Pentagon March, studiously avoided the main confrontation before the Hilton. His chief aide, Tom Hayden, 28, a New Left author who visited Hanoi three years ago, was so closely tailed by plainclothesmen that he finally donned a yippie-style wig to escape their attentions. Nonetheless, he was arrested. Rennie Davis, 28, the clean-cut son of a Truman Administration economic adviser, took a more active part as one of the Chicago organizers: his aim, he said, was “to force the police state to become more and more visible, yet somehow survive in it.” At Grant Park on Wednesday afternoon, he both succeeded and failed….

And here’s David Horowitz’s insider-turned-apostate version:

In fact, the famous epigram from ’68 “Demand the Impossible” which Talbot elsewhere cites, explains far more accurately why it was Hayden, not Daley, who set the agenda for Chicago, and why it was Hayden who was ultimately responsible for the riot that ensued. The police behaved badly, it is true and they have been justly and roundly condemned for their reactions. But those reactions were entirely predictable. After all, it was Daley who, only months before, had ordered his police to “shoot looters on sight” during the rioting after King’s murder. In fact the predictable reaction of the Chicago police was an essential part of Hayden’s calculation in choosing Chicago as the site of the demonstration in the first place.

I disagree with Horowitz’s statement that Hayden was ultimately responsible for the riot that ensued. Just because a group (in this case, the leaders of the demonstrations) is counting on provoking a brutal reaction does not mean that those reacting are not totally responsible for what they do, especially if that reaction is an overreaction, which appears to have been the case here. The police, and those in charge of the police, bear full responsibility for the fact that they behaved badly in just the very way that the demonstration leaders had predicted.

The organizers of the demonstrations in Chicago in 1968 were far from terrorists. But they did have the same intent as terrorists in one respect, and one respect only: to act from a weakened position to provoke, by their actions, a repressive response from authorities (in this case, the police) that would then further inflame public opinion against those authorities, and engender more sympathy for the cause of the planners.

In that endeavor, they were wildly successful in Chicago, but that success required an overreaction on the part of the Chicago police, who kindly obliged and played their predicted part in the drama.

And what of other intents of the demonstration leaders, and other consequences? Horowitz again:

In a year when any national “action” would attract 100,000 protestors, only about 10,000 (and probably closer to 3,000) actually showed up for the Chicago blood-fest. That was because most of us realized there was going to be bloodshed and didn’t see the point. Our ideology argued otherwise as well. The two-party system was a sham; the revolution was in the streets. Why demonstrate at a political convention? In retrospect, Hayden was more cynical and shrewder than we were. By destroying the presidential aspirations of Hubert Humphrey, he dealt a fatal blow to the anti-Communist liberals in the Democratic Party and paved the way for a takeover of its apparatus by the forces of the political left, a trauma from which the party has yet to recover.

One reason the left has obscured these historical facts is that the nostalgists don’t really want to take credit for electing Richard Nixon, which they surely did.

So, should they take “credit” for Nixon’s election? Is this a case of “be careful what you wish for?” I believe the election of Nixon was more of an unintended consequence. The real goal seems to have been to fuel a trend toward the relative radicalization of the Democratic Party, and to gain support for the antiwar movement. In both senses, they were successful.

That “success,” however, did in fact help pave the way for a string of Republican Presidents–with the sole exception of Jimmy Carter’s single term–until the election of Bill Clinton. And in Clinton’s first Presidential campaign, he consciously attempted to counter those long-ago forces from the 60s that had moved the Democratic Party to the left, despite his being a child of said era. This move towards the center is probably what enabled his election in the first place.

Was his move cynical and strategic, or from conviction? At any rate and for whatever reason, the fact is that Clinton had positioned himself as a “New Democrat” as far back as 1985, when he became heavily involved with the Democratic Leadership Council. Its focus was multifaceted, and included domestic issues, particularly fiscal responsibility. But transforming Democratic foreign policy was definitely also a stated intent, according to Clinton (emphasis added):

I opened the [DLC] convention with a keynote address designed to make the case that America needed to change course and that the DLC could and should lead the way. I began with a litany of America’s problems and challenges and a rebuke of the years of Republican neglect, then noted that the Democrats had not been able to win elections, despite Republican failures, “because too many of the people that used to vote for us, the very burdened middle class we are talking about, have not trusted us in national elections to defend our national interests abroad, to put their values into our social policy at home, or to take their tax money and spend it with discipline.

Regardless of whether those promises were–like the majority of campaign promises on both sides–ultimately unfulfilled, my point here is that they were made with the conscious purpose of pulling the Democratic Party back from the disastrous and losing course it had set itself on (at least, regarding Presidential elections) back in the late 60s.

If the goal was to win the Presidential election for the Democrats, Clinton was remarkably and stupendously successful, at least for eight years. If the goal was to actually pull the Party back from the influence of the left in foreign policy, that goal has not been achieved.

The 2008 election promises to be an interesting one, does it not?

49 Responses to “Be careful what you wish for: the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention riots and their aftermath”

  1. Jack Trainor Says:

    Vida is probably my favorite Marge Piercy novel.

    Piercy was an SDSer who rode that charge until it exploded into various fragments, including the Weather Underground. Vida is her fictionalization of a Bernadine Dohrn-like character who goes underground after a screwed-up bombing attempt.

    To my knowledge it is the only novel that attempts to examine that life from the inside, and, as something of an insider herself, Piercy is vividly successful. I recommend it.

  2. chuck Says:

    She came from a wealthy, politically powerful family. As I recall, she was quite idealistic and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Latin America.

    I ran into these sorts at Columbia in the late 60′s. The offspring of the rich tended to be at once the most radical and the most clueless about productive work, although they certainly knew where the money was.

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    I think it has to do with guilt and peer pressure. Peer pressure operats many times upon the guilt of a weak willed and non-confident person for manipulation.

    The Greatest Generation brought peace and prosperity with their blood and vigilance. So the Boomer Babies were spoiled to an extent that people could perhaps not realize in today’s day. Any generation seeks to distance itself from the older generation, to try new things and belong to new movements. It’s a survival instinct. Expand, or stagnate.

    So when these people were confronted by communists that talked about the plight of the poor and what not, the baby boomers felt a lot of guilt, originating from their communist peers.

    So this provided some basic behavioral reinforcement that lead eventually to radical extremism and violence in some cases. Those that weren’t willing to do violence, nonetheless aided those who did and were.

    It is, amazingly, one of the most lasting and devasting effect of World War II. The 60s occured in Britain as well, and I presume, for the same reasons they occured here.

    World War was not over, since the Soviets still existed. But the parents, those who fought in WWII, did not want to contemplate a new war, therefore they wrapped their hands around their spoiled children and never spoke about their wartime experiences and the lessons war taught them. This left the children innocent lambs to the propaganda of communism and the Soviets.

    It has been asked many times, how could such good parents produce such spoiled and bad children?

  4. Jack Trainor Says:

    A long time ago I read a paperback bio of Diana Oughton, a member of the Weather Underground who died in that townhouse explosion.

    She came from a wealthy, politically powerful family. As I recall, she was quite idealistic and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Latin America. She returned to the US uneasy about her positon of privilege and the poverty she had seen. It seemed to me that she had some father issues too.

    One way I understand sixties radicalism is that boomer kids were raised in the fifties with the idea that the US was the perfect exemplar of all good things. Upon discovering that this was not entirely true and having the luxury of sixties prosperity to dwell upon the disparity and act, they did so.

    Sixties radicalism became an out of control positive feedback loop where the more radical they became, the more radical they became … until bumping into harsh realities like townhouses exploding, comrades blown to bits and the rest on the run from the police.

  5. Senescent Wasp Says:

    No, not wired just penetrated. The whole thing just moved too fast for anything other than reaction. And, they learned quickly about internal security and conducting covert operations. Seperating out the posers from the real actors was always a problem. Remember, that lots of guys were unly poltical so they could get laid.

    When the Weather underground went underground they had a saying that “Political power came out of Bernadette’s c_nt”; a dual reference to both the saying by Mao and the fact that the Alpha male got to thump Bernadette Dohrn. She was a a real stroke fantasy in thigh high boots.

    Remember this whole thing played out against the background of “sex, drugs, rock and roll”. You might have a crash pad or two wired up and some informants but it was hard running top level people since they burned out at a very high rate. One, a young woman from California who was just down the street when the infamous town house bomb factory went off she got to see her “action collective” hanging in the trees and littering the street. She left for home that night. She was an “unwitting informant” who just liked to gossip with her older male friend from California. She was out of the bomb loop with the role of extracting money from her parents for expenses.

    They had been building a bomb for an Army officer’ club dance when somebody made a mistake and the townhouse in an exclusive neighborhood went up. It was pretty serious business for a while beyond the street demos. Lots of bombs, outright murders, bank heists, armored cars and major drug dealing to support the Revolution.

  6. Jack Trainor Says:

    wasp — More fascinating stuff! So basically the FBI and police had the radical movement pretty well wired from the get-go?

    As weird as it may seem, Ann Lamott, who writes for Salon, wants to call for a revolution in the US by having people wear green on Bastille Day.

    So the siren call of Revolution still persists on the American left.

  7. confusedforeigner Says:

    More classic dishonesty regarding Indochina, neo. Linking Pol Pot to the Vietnamese communists is quite some construct. The fact that the west officially recognized the Kmer Rouge whilst the killing was going on, and at the same time refused to legitimise the government in Vietnam should be instructive. The fact that the US and others got involved in the first place because of a hysterical paranoia called the domino theory which has parallels now with irrational fear of islamic militancy should be a salutory lesson to us all.

    Much easier to distort the facts though, neo. Well done.

  8. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Neo, I recall reading you post mentioning Hayden, it was a very good and comprehesive survey.

    But, Hayden should be experienced in the flesh at least once. Old “Pizza Face” as he has been know to about 45 years of his fellow radicals and cops, is a force of nature. His terrible acne has scarred his face and I’ve often wondered what role it had in his developement. But, he was a force of nature as a thinker and speaker. He’s still a good thinker but the fire has gone out.

    He is absoulutely humorless and has no sense of irony at all. You can imagine him sitting at the battered desk of a Cheka functionary, working long into the night signing execution orders and consigning hundreds to the Gulag. then consuming tea and plain black bread before sleeping, dreamlessly on the cot in his office.

    He always has a Plan. The difference these days is that there are very few disciplined worker bees to carry it out. All you have to do is visit a demonstration these days which have taken the place of social circles and be-ins for acting out multiple agendas, both group and personal. Also, the Stalinists have their own agendas and Comrade Tom has no place in them.

  9. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Jack, the process was not limited to California. I just know that history best. Colleagues have told me that the process was pretty much the same in all the left strong holds.

    The CETA program was a godsend to out of work, former radicals, with useless degrees. It got them into the bottom rungs of local government and pretty soon they were able to abandon their rakes and shovels for desks and then much later jobs with power and prestige in city and local governments.

    One guy, who started out doing leather and sandals on a couple of hay bales in a vacant lot in a student ghetto built a pretty large company and even went through a polo pony stage before getting “back to his roots” with tax sheltering contributions to politically oriented “non-profits”.

    Since a lot of the Californians came from well off family’s their family’s fobbed them off into “professions” where they did very well.

    Going through the online political contribution filings in certain zip codes is like reading a Who’s Who of 60′s radicalism.

    There’s a great book there, but it would never see the light of day.

    To give you some idea of how it grew so quickly, in, say, 1962 a counter intelligence digest for California would list the CPUSA meetings of all the old Commies. In say, a meeting of six people two would be FBI informants, whose dues help keep the party afloat. By 1970 the monthly digests were huge compendiums of information from all kinds of agencies with much being written by people who simply could not comprehend what they were writing about and just stuck to the dispassionate, report style that gave equal weight to “fuck-ins” as well as bombings and bank robbery for revolutionary coffers. People like myself who got to interact, and in many cases, smell the people being written about on a daily basis fully appreciated the rich irony. I was seen as just another academic dilettante scribbler writing the history of the Revolution. In fact, I was regulary having covert debriefings with informants who watched the bombs, for example being made.

    In the fullness of time, the local cops execute a search warrant for weed and everybody gets scooped up. Young man from prominent family is asked serious questions and advised by family attorney to cooperate. Viola, another informant for the mill of justice. The bomb materials go away, a few people have to spend months defending some puny dope bust and the affinity group ceases to exist. Everybody says, “Whew, the pigs missed the explosives.” not knowing that it was then policy not to publish information about how many young men and women were into firearms, stinks and bangs.

    Since dope was central as a revolutionary act, very few learned the lesson and the whole thing would happen again.

    By the late 70′s and early 80′s there was a whole cottage industry of attorney’s and para-legals dedicated to expunging records. Is this a great country or what? There is always a way to turn a buck.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    More on Hayden.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Just because I’m talking about someone when they are in the room, doesn’t mean I am paying them any attention. Maybe older women with grown up children can understand that a bit better.

  12. Jack Trainor Says:

    wasp — Fascinating. I’ve read elsewhere of leftists burrowing into the California Democratic Party and Hayden is a prime example. I give them credit for effectiveness.

    It turns out that much of what I considered right-wing hysteria about far left, even communist, influences in America was legitimate, and continues to this day.

  13. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Let me amend the statement regarding the fire bombing that resulted in the death. After refreshing my memory, a non electronic process these days, there were several names bruited about and one was of a now prominent business man who had been a “student radical”. Since it was a local cop shop case, I was not privy to the investigation. But, the name reappeared many years later in the turning over of old ground while searching for the Unabomber.

  14. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Boy, I can’t seem to ever escape being a contrarian. Even an “advanced degree” is no protection.

    Jack, another good point about the increased stridency; you’re on a roll; or role, take your choice.

    But, I’m not really seeing any Galbraithian countervailing pendulum in operation here. Since Tom Hayden’s much circulated speech, in Ojai I think, outlining the devolution of the Left into affinity groups and infiltration of the “organs of state power” they have shown a remarkable ability to pull it off while infecting others with their peculiar virus.

    This, in California at least, is the origin of their capture of the Democratic party. A lot of names continue to pop up that were in inter agency counter intelligence monthly briefings of the “Great Cultural Revolution and Smoke In” period. I can remember more than one of my city’s top adminstrators waving Mao’s Little Red Book while marching into classrooms to disrupt the lectures. And, a now prominent business man and Democratic contributor,was once a prime suspect in a fire bombing that resulted in a death.

  15. neoneoconned Says:

    hmmmm is that meant as some strange compliment? Anyway Comrade Wasp says you are meant to be ignoring me so you had better do what you have been told.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    You know what. If I had an army of propaganda operators made up of conned and spank, I could make the terroists and the anti-Americans hide in their holes begging to be slain. Too bad the propaganda operators are working for the other side. Oh well, we fight with the army we have, not with the army we wish.

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    You have to wonder what people who dropped out of high schools have in common with advanced degree holders, concerning Bush…

  18. Jack Trainor Says:

    When the fruitcake left has taken over the media, the democratic party, and the academy, there is no fading away of the fruitcake left. It has become an institution devoted to its own perpetuity.

    Could be. However, I tend to be an optimist. As the defects of the left become clearer, people will continue to move away. In 2004 Bush gained in every demographic except high school dropouts and people with advanced degrees.

    Also, things change and even the most entrenched groups lose power eventually.

    I suspect that much of the stridency we hear from the left comes from the panic of seeing power slipping away with no real hope–other than a terrible disaster in the Middle East–of seeing it return.

  19. neoneoconned Says:

    yeah come on Alex hush up …comrade wasp don’t like people talking to the enemy

    he isn’t too keen on making sense either

    But, in the final analysis, the Red Banner Brigades of the Democratic party can only wind up hurting the entire polity since they can’t really hold their opponents feet to the fire anymore on actual, you know, policy issues.

    and this from a man who refuses to debate….come on, stop sulking and we all promise to play nicely withyou.

  20. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Good work, folks, note the squirrel is becoming more importunate and insulting. “When Squirrel’s Attack”, cannot be far off. Continue to ignore and we will be treated to micro-cerebral explosion soon. Alex, bite your tongue.

    The point about the Left becoming “institutionalized” (must resist temptation…) is a good one.

    I’ve noticed it at my alma mater. It is a sort of Gresham’s Law. libertarians, conservatives and moderates are going elsewhere and the loon quotient is going up. So, the loons have captured the means of production and can produce more loons.

    In their own counsels they appear, to each other, as “imminently sensible” and are sincerely hurt when they are hooted at by truly sensible folks.

    But, in the final analysis, the Red Banner Brigades of the Democratic party can only wind up hurting the entire polity since they can’t really hold their opponents feet to the fire anymore on actual, you know, policy issues. You remember policy? It is designed to address and fix problems.

    Can the Democrats endure and sustain a party purge? The finger down the throat to tickle the uvula, vomiting the bad stuff down the commode of history? Stay tuned.

  21. neoneoconned Says:

    lol. you havent seen the state of this pc and i am at work! paid to troll – fantastic

  22. Alex Says:

    A man who wants to have sex with robots

    Oh come on neoneoconned, like you haven’t thought of it! With the amount of time you spend on here, I bet that laptop starts to look pretty good…

  23. neoneoconned Says:

    A man who wants to have sex with robots see here calls other people ‘fruitcakes’, and thinks this makes an argument….Same old neo cons, can’t put an argument together so dismiises all contradictory opinions and refuses to test their own ideas.

    what you guys need is a blog where you all can just agree with each other….wherethe only point you will need to make is one of agreement…..

  24. Tom Grey Says:

    It was actually Nov., 1963, just after JFK was shot in Dallas that the Left began taking over.
    Believing in Camelot. (See Mark Steyn)

    Don’t let it be forgot
    That once there was a spot
    For one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

    Unreal Perfection.
    Keeping their hands clean.
    Compromise isn’t pure enough — and those who disagree are … evil.

    Peggy Noonan thinks in 2008 we may see a Third Party; Kaus thinks McCain is getting ready to go Third Party route.

    But Mike Folmer in PA won a Rep. primary, as well as 15 other non-incumbents. The Rep. Wing of the Rep Party.

    Policies:
    Pro-democracy, in practice & action; pro-tax cuts; pro-spending cuts; pro-life; anti-illegal immigrants.

    Nobody knows, but I suspect talk of Reps being wiped out is pre-mature.
    Very.

    Since the Dems have no King Arthur, nor even a Lancelot.
    Rage-a-lot won’t win so much.

  25. al fin Says:

    Jack:
    I think that is largely a matter of time as the sixties generation fades away. People moderate their views as they grow older, but switching them around–as some here have done–is unusual.

    When the fruitcake left has taken over the media, the democratic party, and the academy, there is no fading away of the fruitcake left. It has become an institution devoted to its own perpetuity.

    In the 60′s the protesters were rebelling against a society dominated by right-wing institutions. Now most institutions are in agreement with the nutty anti-americanism of the left, so why protest? There is no military draft. College students can vote, and can even get drunk or stoned whenever they want.

    This is the new, new left. Where a gram is better than a damn.

  26. neoneoconned Says:

    aw whats wrong wasp? nasty people having opinions different from yours? Grow up and learn that democracy and free speech means a range of opinions not just the ones you think are right.

    Thinking about it you would make a great apparatchik in some old communist state forcing everyone to toe the party line and assiduously undermining the legitimacy and sanity of any who disagreed. So go on comrade wasp, you keep to the pure truth and dont let any other ideas in.

  27. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Don’t feed the squirrels.

    I expect that there will be several more attempts by Moo-On to organize large demonstrations in the hope that fringies, like the so called anarchists, will set off police over reaction. This, for them, “reveals the contradictions inherent in the fascist, capitalist system”. Actually, it just gets a Republican president elected by voters who will hold their noses. But, that’s OK with the Moo-Ons too, since it increases the “fascist oppression” and brings The Revolution that much closer.

    This kind of thinking really goes on in the “dis-organizational” meetings. In the 60′s I ran a string of informants in the SDS and the debriefing reports were surreal.

  28. neoneoconned Says:

    Itis likely that bin laden et al are thinking of some unpleasant stunt to produce precisely this effect. They are well aware that Bush type knee jerk responses helps them to maintain their own popularity againsts mainstream Islamic opinion. Or even against equally violent but less messianic arabs.

  29. Jack Trainor Says:

    If the goal was to actually pull the Party back from the influence of the left in foreign policy, that goal has not been achieved. –neo

    I think that is largely a matter of time as the sixties generation fades away. People moderate their views as they grow older, but switching them around–as some here have done–is unusual.

    The unpleasant possibility is another 9-11 or worse, in which case enough Americans flip to the Republican column on foreign policy to break the deadlock once and for all–somewhat like the dramatic turn away from isolationism in the forties.

  30. bmcworldcitizen Says:

    Of course you want that brutality to be reserved for when it is needed–but it must be available if needed and the people have to realise this.

    Absolutely, if they realise they’ll have their faces punched in if they protest, that will certainly act as a discouragement.

    The critical point is the police have to have the confidence that they won’t be held accountable for their actions, and thats a problem. The courts always seemed to side with the unarmed civilians.

    Declawing the legislature is thus a critical part of the process. If courts are too cowed to act, then the police can take the patriotic action required to secure the state against these 5th columnists.

  31. al fin Says:

    Absolutely, snow. A police or military that is incapable of brutality is worthless. Of course you want that brutality to be reserved for when it is needed–but it must be available if needed and the people have to realise this.

    As for the american democractic party, there is no possibility that it will move to the center. The purse strings are firmly in control of the fruitcake left. The only question is how well the fruitcake left can disguise itself as centrist in the leadup to the election. If the public is not fooled, prepare for more long years of hapless republican arrogance and complacency.

  32. snowonpine Says:

    I was stationed in Japan in the early 60′s and outside the main gate of U.S. military bases in the Tokyo area there was usually a signboard listing the demonstrations that various local groups had said they would hold that week, along with a reminder to stay clear of these areas. Japanese riot police then, maybe now, were not fooling around. If you started a demo that got out of hand, they would come down on you pretty hard. From what I could see, it looked like Japanese rioters accepted getting thrashed as just the price of doing business.

  33. neoneoconned Says:

    be careful what you wish for is always an interesting argument…Look at the current mess in Iraq….is this what you wished for as the troops went in?

    Interesting debate about the role of the police. i imagine you could find the same sorts of arguments supporting oppressive police action in many countries. Likewise you could say tactics used by demonstrators are provocative. A lot of it is dependent on your opinion of the demonstrators.

    As for the elections 2008 is a long way offand a great many things could happen. But what chance a decimation of Republicans in November? I would bet there will a marginalisation of extreme right neo-con type ideas in the elections. This could be in reaction to the perceived failure of international policy run on neo con lines.

    should be interesting

  34. strcpy Says:

    The problem is that you sometimes end up loosing tic-tac-toe. I agree that giving them what they want is wrong, but society is such that they win either way. If we had *not* have done what we did – those things would have killed officers. Unfortuantly, as you well know, the side that is willing to go that far automatically wins. From a society standpoint letting a number of officers die may be a win – it’s a lot harder to be one of those guys standing there facing death.

    It’s the “non-violent no matter what” attitude that causes this. Now, I agree with much of what you say. Back then we didn’t have the technical options to do what you want.

    To use an example, in lots of formal fighting techniques ground fighting rules (I played Judo for a number of years, so bear with me). The thing is, you can force someone to go to the ground, you can not force standoff fighting. Thus the person who rules at ground fighting is going to be the ultimate winner – doesn’t matter how much you like or dislike it.

    The trick is to realise this and adapt. In this case they depended on escalation of force. The protestors dependend on each succesive step being just a little larger than the next and took advantage of it. That’s the problem and is where we attack them. To blame the police/national guard is not really fair – I bet a large amount of them thought similar thought but had little choice.

    Now, we have some very violent methods that are very non lethal – ever see police shoot the stink bombs into a rioting crowd? The smell is actually bad enough it overwhelms your brain and stops most bodily functions (including motor control) for a few seconds. VERY effective – you don’t fight through that.

    You talk about the same thing with applied violence for propaganda. If you simply escalate a little at a time you end up with very violent and deadly situation. If you go violent and too deadly (that is, loose the psych part) you end up with a bad situation. But immediatly apply the violent situation correctly you win big.

    I do not blame the police/national guard for letting that situation occur – I’m sure they hate it too. In these cases you can not blame the ones out there – I rather suspect you would do little different facing death. Our society has set this up – and continues to set this up and the radicals can play against it with the co-operation of the media. Though not as bad as before, thankfully many have begun to *think* about it a bit. It’s like playing a video game where you know all the rules and one side is forced into the game mechanics as a reactionalist and the other side is free to act as they wish (if you’ve ever played online games the big fight is to be the one that causes reactions – same as real life. Though a good player makes it such that react = loose, not react = loose). The other side will always win if they are somewhat intelligent.

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    As for the blame game about the police being at fault or the students.

    I don’t think neo is all that far from my position. My position is that if you are fighting your enemy, and you lose cause you lost your cool and made a fatal mistake, the you failed, period. Your enemy succeded in doing what he set out to do, but it was you who failed to succede in winning and saving your life. Does your enemy shoulder some responsibility for killing you? Why yes, that was his entire purpose wasn’t it. Do you shoulder some responsibility for getting yourself killed? Why yes, obviously if you had done your training better, this wouldn’t have happened.

    We’re not talking about a prodigous power gap, like the tanks used at Tianamen square. The students had “zero” chance there, so the responsibility is all with the police because they were all powerful once the tanks rolled.

    In the Chicago police vs students. The Chicago police failed to maintain discipline and ranks. The students succeded in causing violence. It doesn’t matter to what extent both are responsible, so much as what kind of responsibility there was. One kind of responsibility was for the success of a pre-planned action. The other responsibility was for the failure of a pre-planned action.

    I think neo recognizes this, atrcpy, and so it doesn’t bother me who neo blames.

  36. Ymarsakar Says:

    I favor the water cannons themselves. Cheap, ready to use, and oh so fun to watch.

  37. strcpy Says:

    While you may still end up with the same conclusion, you probably *really* ought to relook at the “police brutality” of the 60′s that you talk about.

    Put yourself in thier (the national guards or polices) shoes, especially Kent State. Vastly outnumberd to begin with – riot gear and such does no good then especially if you are only allowed to use non-violent, and even non-lethal, responses. As the crowd had been violent in the days past the non-lethal non-to-semi-violent methods had been tried and were totally ineffective (so, why do people seem tot hink *this* time it migh maybe have worked?). And lastly at least some of the member of the crowd were beginning to use potentially lethal violence against you. Would you risk it?

    Like the Iraq war, many on the left like to paint this nice little picture of peaceful stundents all gathering to sing songs and play nice, then the big bad state comes along and unilaterally unleashes death and destruction. I think if you look into this deeper than what you remember you will, once more, find that what you know is less than accurate.

    You begin to figure this out – you say it yourself that the leaders planned on this. Well, just like Saddam if you intend on making armed people thinking you are going to kill them don’t be surprised when those armed men react as such. Just like Iraq, there was absolutely no reason whatsoever for those police or national guard to think that it was this great big peace loving mob with only a few bad apples (and, given how riots across the world play out, to think so usually means those peace loving ones turn very violent – see soccer, US football, basketball, and general sports parties turn riots). There is a lot left out of most retelling of this and what is is very romantacised – note that the “official” story is totally from the students – nope, no bias there huh (that ought to be a clue)?

    Ironically, it would have been much better if the police/national guard had not tried “escalation” – it worked there as well as it did in vietnam – that is failed miserably. In that sense, it was the institutions fault. Greater force initially would have stopped it much faster and brought about the same criticism.

    We have learned better how to deal with this (how to target the leaders, swift removal/punuishment to them) along with much better riot control weapons. Some of the stink bombs, bean bag guns, and a few other technologies give us something in between tear gas and rubber bullets – heck the stink guns and pepper spray guns once used (both using paint ball capsules) are almost as deterring as lethal force, at least for a short time (lethal, of course, being permanent).

  38. Ymarsakar Says:

    There are two choices. Either the students win, and you get Amanie let’s take the Americanos hostage in Iran, or you let the police win.

    There is no neutrality.

  39. Jason H. Bowden Says:

    Even though the intelligentsia and the media didn’t like Daley, voters here in Chicago reelected him in a landslide in 1971.

    Throwing fecal matter, spiked golf balls and so forth at police officers is a quick way to get billy clubbed in the City of Big Shoulders.

  40. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Jack, years ago, I used to say, “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Republican”. Now, sadly, we both can say that.

    And, now, after the Perot experience, American’s are gun shy of third party candidates. I have a friend who jokingly said that thinking back on the Perot candidacy he almost believes that Rove must have a time machine.

    Actually, the left in the Democrat Party grew, at least in California, from 60′s activists holding their noses and capturing a good deal of the party mechanism.

    Almost as a counterpoint the right, moved in on the Republican party still in shock after the demise of cross filing which put an emphasis on moderate, big tent Republicanism.

    Now, moderates, of both party’s have no home at all.

  41. Jack Trainor Says:

    Without a coherent party in opposition the Republican’s have succumbed to the temptations of special interest politics. we need a strong two party system that is able to contend for the middle.

    Amen to that, wasp. I’m still a registered Democrat and I truly hope that the Dems can come back–the US needs them–but it is also clear that they have not yet hit bottom for that “moment of clarity.”

    Sadly I think much of the Democrats’ craziness does go back to traumas of Chicago ’68 and the JFK assassination.

  42. chuck Says:

    Note that Clinton won election in 1992 with 42% of the popular vote; no Perot, no president Clinton. Jimmy Carter got 50% of the popular vote in 1978 and that was after Nixon. All-in-all, the Democratic doldrums run deeper than they might appear at first glance. In light of the numbers, I would say Bush has been a weak candidate for the Republicans, although certainly better than Dole. Bush has been blessed by his opposition.

    So, what will 2008 be like? Haven’t a clue. The Republicans do seem to have a number of strong choices. As to the Democrats I really can’t see Kerry, Gore, or Edwards as viable candidates. Is there anybody else besides Hillary?

  43. douglas Says:

    “The 2008 election promises to be an interesting one, does it not?”

    It does indeed…

    Reminds me of the old curse…
    May you live in interesting times.

  44. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Clinton worked for years to cobble together a message and a coalition that worked only to see it sabotaged by the party’s internal dissension.

    Without a coherent party in opposition the Republican’s have succumbed to the temptations of special interest politics. we need a strong two party system that is able to contend for the middle.

    I think that 2008 is going to be what political scientists call a critical re-aligning election.

  45. Mearcstapa Says:

    It is going to be fascinating to watch the Democratic party explode when, after being fed nothing but information slamming Bush and the Republican party, America still elects a Republican President in ’08.

    Hopefully, what emerges from the ashes will be an improvement on both parties.

  46. Ymarsakar Says:

    Provoking police and guard forces to crush protestors is a common grab bag tactic out of the guerrila bag of tricks.

    In the case that the police are disciplined, all you have to do is to position news cameras in such a way that it does not see insurgent forces firing an RPG at police from inside the protestor crowd. This would incite a violent response from the police, and if this is done after hours of the police trying to beat back the crowd with a shield wall and being unsuccessfully, this would be enough to psychologically unbalance the police and cause them to go on a rampage without orders.

    The television, because of the prior planning, would capture the police conducting violence but it would not would not have captured insurgents inside the crowd firing RPGs and Machine guns into the police. Nor would it show the insurgents inside the crowd setting off bombs that shred both protestors and police.

    There are various variations on this guerrila/terroist style tactic. Some more violent than others. It is no surprise the pro-communists at chicago made use of it. The Soviets themselves invented many of the guerrila bag’s contents. America invented some of the rest.

  47. BeckyJ Says:

    Oh yeah, ’08 is gonna be one heck of an election year. I’m looking forward to it. But then, as a political scientist, I do get my jolly’s this way!

    I don’t think that the Democratic Party has awoken to the fact that it has essentially been captured by internal special interests. The results of this year’s elections will let us see the extent to which those special interests have control over the majority of Democratic voters.

  48. snowonpine Says:

    Neo–You would have to mention Tom Hayden. Hayden inevitably, for me, brings to mind Jane Fonda.

    I don’t know how much Hayden has tried to change his image, but Jane certainly has made some attempts to do so. Unfortunately for her people do tend to remember the image of a much younger Fonda with a helmet on, laughing as she is sitting in the seat of an anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi: such pictures and her anti-war statements have marked her indelibly and earned her the nick name of “Hanoi Jane.”

    What many may not know is that she also made propaganda broadcasts on Radio Hanoi, a la Tokyo Rose, in which she told American troops that they were fighting an illegal war and in which she urged them to throw down their arms and refuse to fight for their country.

    I’ve always wondered why those in authority didn’t have the guts to have her arrested and tried for treason.

  49. Steven R Says:

    You’re kinda wrong about classifying Time Magazine as “hardly a right wing fringe publication”. No matter what it is today, what it was in the sixties is a different matter.

    Although one of it’s founders, Henry Luce, was dead by ’68, his wife Clare was still quite active in very conservative right wing politics. Dare we say, fringe right wing activities.

    She had, and presumably with the knowledge and support of her husband Henry, aided William Pawley in funding speedboats that made “intelligence gathering” runs in and out of Cuba. Mind you, a group of private citizens funding extra-governmental covert activity in the days before the missile crisis. Many would say that it was that kind of harassing activity that drove Castro into the arms of the Soviets. Hardly what one ought to expect from a “news organization” ostensibly founded to report the news and not make it.

    She went on to serve on the board of directors of Association of Former Intelligence Officers, formed in 1975 to provide and “independent voice” for poor, misunderstood CIA officers.

    Yeah, pretty fringe right wing stuff. Wouldn’t you say?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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