Autumn in America, 1973

… forty years on – Published on Dissident Voice, by Ron Jacobs, August 24, 2013 (see also our new blog: politics for the 99%).

… On September 25, the great poet Pablo Neruda was buried by his friends after the authorities refused a state funeral and made it illegal for mourners to attend. Thousands did anyhow. His last poem had been smuggled out of the country to Argentina where it was published. The poem lashed out at the authors of the coup in Washington and Santiago, calling the latter “prostitute merchants/of bread and American air,/deadly seneschals,/ a herd of whorish bosses/with no other law but torture/and the lashing hunger of the people.” Meanwhile, in the football stadium in Santiago, soldiers and other authorities tortured thousands and killed hundreds, including the popular folksinger Victor Jara. Other detainees were held on an island off the Chilean coast. On September 28, the Weather Underground bombed the ITT offices in Manhattan in protest of the coup. Six days earlier, coup architect Henry Kissinger was appointed Secretary of State … //

… There was an Attica Brigade chapter on my campus. This was a leftist anti-imperialist youth organization connected to the Revolutionary Union, which was one of many organizations arising from the 1969-1970 dissolution of the Students for a Democratic Society. They were primary sponsors of the first Impeach Nixon rally in New York that fall and inspired a fair number of protesters to attempt a takeover of the Justice Department at another impeachment protest in DC the following April. Their battle cry was “Throw the Bum Out!” We all know that the bum was eventually thrown out, only to be succeeded by a procession of more bums, some worse but none much better. This is what so-called democracy looks like, although objectively it doesn’t seem much different from the aforementioned colonels’ junta in Greece or the revolving dictatorship in Egypt. We fool ourselves when we pretend that it is.
(full text).

(Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Tripping Through the American Night, and the novels Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. His third novel All the Sinners, Saints is a companion to the previous two and was published early in 2013. Read other articles by Ron).

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