Skip to content


A Brother with a Furious Mind

Dissident Voice Article

By Ron Jacobs

In 1981, a group of revolutionaries robbed a Brink’s armored truck near Nyack, NY. In the ensuing confusion and attempt to flee, three people died from gunfire. A couple days later, one of the revolutionaries was killed by law enforcement. The robbery itself was planned and carried out by members of the Black Liberation Army: a group of former Black Panthers who had chosen armed struggle, and the May 19 Communist organization, which was founded by white revolutionaries also dedicated to armed struggle. One of those members was former Weather Underground member David Gilbert. Gilbert is currently serving a sentence of 75 years to life in the New York State prison system.

This month PM Press, the Oakland, CA. publisher founded by AK Press founder Ramsey Kanaan and others, is publishing Gilbert’s memoirs. The book, titled Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond, is certain to be included in the top tier of books having to do with the period of US history known as the Sixties. There is no self-pity within these pages, but lots of self-reflection. In what can only be considered a refreshing approach, Gilbert takes full responsibility for the path he has chosen and explains that path in an intelligently political manner and with a decidedly leftist understanding. Love and Struggle combines objective history, personal memory, and a critical perspective into a narrative that is at once an adventuresome tale and a political guide through the past fifty years.

Gilbert begins his story by describing his youth and his developing awareness that the United States was not what he had been led to believe it was. An Eagle Scout who believed the myths inherent in American exceptionalism, he was unprepared for the cognitive dissonance he underwent while watching the attacks by law enforcement on civil rights marchers in the US South. That sense of conflict deepened when he headed off to Columbia University. By 1965, angered by the US war on the Vietnamese and armed with a well-researched understanding of why the US was really involved there, Gilbert was organizing Columbia students to join antiwar protests. Like many of his contemporaries, by 1968 he was an anti-imperialist and working full-time against the war in Vietnam and racism in the United States. By 1969, he was one of the original members of Weatherman and by April 1970 he was underground.

Gilbert tells his story with a hard-learned humility. Occasionally interjecting his personal life–his loves and failures, his relationship with his family–with his political journey, it is the politics which are foremost in this memoir. A true revolutionary, every other aspect of Gilbert’s life is subsumed to the revolution. This kind of life is not an easy one. Indeed, it arguably makes the life of an ascetic monk look easy by comparison. After all, the monk is only trying to change himself, while the committed revolutionary wants to change the world into one where justice prevails; a world that by its very structure resists such change.

Love and Struggle carefully examines the history of the periods Gilbert has lived in. From the early days of the antiwar movement and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to the public street-fighting arrogance of early Weatherman; from Weatherman’s transition to the Weather Underground Organization (WUO) and its growing isolation from the New Left it was a part of; and from the post-Vietnam war US left to the Brink robbery and its aftermath, Gilbert keeps the politics front and center in his text. In his discussion of the period between Weather’s publication of its essential work Prairie Fire and its immediate aftermath, Gilbert provides an insight into the debates inside WUO and among its supporters in the years after the peace treaty was signed with northern Vietnam. His portrayal of the differences around theory being debated in the WUO serve as a broader description of the debates raging throughout the new left as the US intervention in Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle neared its end. For those of us who were politically involved at the time, the debates ring with familiarity: national liberation over class; the interaction between race and class in the US; the oppression of women and white male privilege. In a testimony to his writing abilities, Gilbert’s discussion of the issues makes them as alive in this book as those arguments actually were in the mid-1970s. His keen political sense reveals the interplay between different political perspectives, understandings of history, and the always present contests of ego. The political arguments outlined by Gilbert (especially when describing the battle inside WUO) are still relevant today. Their echoes are present in the General Assemblies of the Occupy Wall Street movement and in forums more specific and less specific across the nation. Gilbert’s presentation of the essential WUO arguments that challenges the overriding role of class in the nature of oppression is not only reasoned and impassioned, it is worth studying and makes points useful to the future of anti-imperialist struggle in the United States Furthermore, the book includes an ongoing and excellent discussion of the nature of white supremacy and white skin privilege. For anyone who has spent time involved in the Occupy movement the past few months, the relevance of this latter discussion is all too familiar.

For those looking for a sensationalist account of life as a revolutionary or a confession, they should look elsewhere. David Gilbert’s memoir is a political account of a political life. Every action undertaken, every decision made is examined via the eye of a leftist revolutionary. This does not mean there are no page-turning moments in the book, however. Indeed, the sections describing Weather’s move underground and Gilbert’s daily life off the grid are interesting and revealing, as are those describing the attempts by WUO members to evade capture. The descriptions of Gilbert’s clandestine life and his subsequent moving back aboveground and then back under are also riveting.

Underlying the entire narrative is a current of what is best described as self-criticism; of Weather, the New Left, armed struggle and, ultimately, of Gilbert himself. As anyone who has experienced something akin to a self-criticism session can attest, such sessions can be emotionally wrenching episodes of retribution and petty anger. They can also be tremendously useful when conducted humanely. Gilbert’s written attempts at this exercise in Love and Struggle lean toward the latter expression while also providing interesting and useful considerations to the aforementioned issues (along with issues related to those criticisms). Gilbert’s realization that his ego occasionally caused him to make decisions that weren’t based on politically sound rationales is something any radical leader should take into account. In fact, Gilbert’s continuing struggle with his ego and it’s place in the decisions he made while free reminded me of a maxim relayed to me a couple times in my life; once by an organizer for the Revolutionary Union in Maryland and once by a friend from the Hog Farm commune. That maxim is simply: if you start believing that the revolution can’t exist without you, then it’s time to leave center stage and go back to doing grunt work where nobody knows (or cares) who you are. In other words, you are not the revolution so take your ego out of it.

In the well-considered catalog of books dealing honestly with the period of history known as the Sixties in the United States, Love and Struggle is an important addition. Borrowing his technique from memoir, confession, and objective history-telling, David Gilbert has provided the reader of history with the tale of a person and a time. Simultaneously, he has given the reader inclined to political activism a useful, interesting, and well-told example of one human’s revolutionary commitment to social change no matter what the cost.

View the original article at dissidentvoice.org

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Climate Change.

Tagged with , .


0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.



Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's all happening now big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale". This site must be on some list at GCHQ/NSA as my AdSense revenue which I rely on has gone down by a third. Either people are not helping out by visiting sponsors sanymore or I am being blackballed like many YouTube sites.

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally I know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know some people in prison now for the content they had on their "secret private group". Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. If you really need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA/GCHQ to hack into. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and that the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install or other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day - your smart phone. If you are paranoid ensure that you can remove the battery when travelling around and do so to prevent GPS tracking or phone mast triangulation. Even with your phone in Flight mode or turned off, it can be turned on remotely and any features like front or back cameras, microphones and keylogging software can be installed to trace you.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering rubbish) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.

Why?

Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?



css.php