Editors’ Notes


Fifth Estate # 71, January 23-February 5, 1969

There has been considerable question as to where the Fifth Estate stands regarding an attack on the white left in our last issue and on a number of articles appearing in these pages by White Panther spokesmen.

Political views that are explicitly those of this paper are printed only in this column and in editorials such as the one about the aftermath of the Democratic Convention. All news stories are edited by us and in that sense reflect our editorial views as in any newspaper.

Columns such as Rock and Roll Dope by John Sinclair or articles of opinion, such as the one in the last issue by William Leach attacking the white left are solely the responsibility of the author.

We view the Fifth Estate as the organ of communication for our community and as being open to all of its members who seek an alternative and revolutionary society. No one has devised one single correct way to reach this goal and we think the publishing of divergent views is important and not divisive. The editorial group agrees and disagrees with varying portions of both Sinclair’s and Leach’s articles, but feels that both deserve printing particularly in view of response from readers to the issues raised.

However, we think our position on certain issues in the current controversy should be made clear.

We believe that persons that are serious in their criticisms of this society and their desire to change it must involve themselves in serious revolutionary struggle. We do not think it appropriate for us to attempt to define the form of this struggle since there are so many divergent views of what constitutes the proper road. It should be clear, from what we print in the paper, what we think is of general importance.

We consider ourselves revolutionaries and we believe in accomplishing revolution by whatever means are necessary. We do not believe that music is revolution. We do not believe that dope is revolution. We do not believe that poetry is revolution. We see these as part of a burgeoning revolutionary culture. They can’t replace political struggle as the main means by which the capitalist system will be destroyed.

The Man will not allow his social and economic order to be taken from him by Marshall amps and crashing cymbals. Ask the Cubans, the Vietnamese, or urban American blacks what lengths this system is willing to go to to preserve itself.

Regarding the issue of the role of the working class and the relationship of our movement to it, we see the working class of this country and of the world as a requisite part of the revolutionary process. Students can play an important role, but without the economic power the working class commands by virtue of its productive capacity, no real change will be possible.

We define the working class very simply. It consists of those individuals who are forced to sell their labor for subsistence and who have no control over, and are alienated from, the means of production.

We do not think the working class is made up of 45 year old honkie racist reactionaries. Those elements are certainly present, but the work force also contains a substantial number of blacks, particularly in urban centers like Detroit and young white workers who are not as closed to new thinking as their fathers.

This definition also includes white collar workers such as government workers, teachers, social service agency employees, etc.

We think calls for people to drop out or not to “join the machine” make sense only to a few privileged children of the affluent. Most people just have to work those awful straight jobs and feel intimidated when a long-haired parent-financed drop-out points an accusing finger at them.

We are sure very few working people reading this paper like the jobs they are at, but they don’t have any other realistic choice but to continue at it. There is only a finite number of jobs available on underground newspaper staffs, in head shops, in rock bands or being their manager.

We oppose people who consider themselves serious revolutionaries dropping out. A revolutionary does what is necessary, not what provides him with the most personal comfort.

That means you stay in ugly poisonous cities because you know that is where the real action will be.

That means you stay in college. Not to study the irrelevant and boring course work, but to organize among students because you realize the role students will play in a revolutionary movement.

That means you stay in the army and organize other GIs against the war.

That means going into a factory to work and organize among the workers before the Wallace people do.

It means dropping into American society and breaking out of our hip, chic, mod, intellectual circles where everyone knows the latest rock group and dope from San Francisco and has the proper revolutionary hero on his wall.

It means that, instead of putting up posters of Che, we try to be like him. This means us, too.