Letter to SDS

reprinted from the Fifth Estate, July 31, 1969


Fifth Estate # 368-369, Spring-Summer, 2005

Mark Rudd, National Secretary

Students for a Democratic Society

Brother Mark,

When SDS proposed having an action in Chicago October 11, focusing on anti- imperialism, we at The Fifth Estate felt that it had the potential of being a very heavy action and crucial to the growth of a revolutionary movement in this country.

However, after reading about the proposed tactics of the action, we have grave reservations about their usefulness. We feel that rather than clarifying an anti-imperialist perspective, they obscure these politics behind an adventuristic militancy, falsely labeled “struggle.”

Furthermore, the publicity which has been done around the action has focused on this militancy rather than on the important politics which the action is supposed to express.

For example, the action on Thursday, which calls for people to “liberate the high schools” and “bust our brothers and sisters out of jail,” besides putting people into a questionable confrontation with Chicago pigs, implies that we can “liberate those high schools” in lieu of the people inside. This idea of the revolutionaries substituting themselves for the people is adventurism of the worst kind.

The emphasis and rhetoric of the leaflets and raps are not only ineffective, they are counter-productive for pushing an anti-imperialist perspective and making people understand the real implications of the war. The total effect of the action, we feel, will lead to the defeat of a perspective we share, create cynicism on the part of the people we hope to reach, and a demoralization of our brothers and sisters.

Our criticism should be seen as a constructive attempt to transform a potentially disastrous situation into a valuable and meaningful step in the making of our revolution.