Nonviolence in the 1960s and 1970s: theories and critiques.
Clockwise: A Black Power button in circulation in the late 1960s; The cover of the first English edition of Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1963); Jim Fitzpatrick’s iconic depiction of Che Guevara (1968), The quickly discontinued record sleeve of The Rolling Stones ‘Street Fighting Man’ (1968).
Frustrated that the judicial and legislative victories of the civil rights era had failed to make any impact on life in the Ghettos, many blacks turned towards violence.
1964-Ghettos in Rochester, Harlem, and Philadelphia erupted.- followed by Washington, Baltimore, San Francisco, Detroit, Cleveland , and Chicago.
1965 Watts L.A riot (34 killed/4000 wounded)
‘If the black man’s pent-up resentments and latent frustrations are not released through nonviolent marches, sit-ins, and Freedom Rides, they will come out in ominous expressions of violence. This is not a threat; it is a fact of history.’
(Martin Luther King Jr.)
1925 He was born in Martinique, studied medicine and psychiatry at the University of Lyon and served in the French Army during the Second World War.
1952 He published Black Skin, White Masks.
1953–56 He served as head of the psychiatry department of Blida-Joinville Hospital in Algeria.
1954 He joined the Algerian Liberation Movement.
1961 He published The Wretched of the Earth and soon after died of Leukemia.
The old left as a whole shared the idea of the industrial working class as the agency of the transformation of capitalism to socialism and viewed industrial workers generally and labour unions in particular as the locus of its potential constituency. One could argue that the largely middle-class based and intellectually orientated nature of the early New Left signalled a decisive shift away from the concept that the industrial workers were the sole agency of social change. One could argue that the impetus for this shift in perception can be traced back to C. Wright Mills’ highly influential Letter to the New Left (1960). Mills argues quite succinctly that the labour metaphysic was obsolete; ‘a legacy from Victorian Marxism that is now quite unrealistic’. Drawing upon incidences of contemporary social unrest, most notably the student riots in Turkey, South Korea and the left-wing revolution in Cuba, he concludes that it is the young intelligentsia not labour that are the present agency of change.China, Cuba and Vietnam: successful insurgencies
John F Kennedy (October 1963)
The mystique of Che has created not only a cult but a new source of profits for composers, poster makers and book publishers. "Everybody is jumping on the Guevara bandwagon," says Vice Chairman Rayner Unwin of the London publishing house of Allen & Unwin. Four Italian publishers are working the field, including Milan's Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, whose 95¢ version of Che's handbook. Guerrilla Warfare, has gone into three editions totaling 40,000 copies. At least half a dozen moviemakers are scrambling to get on-screen first with a Guevara biography. Most of them are Europeans, but in the U.S., Director Richard Fleischer, who has just completed The Boston Strangler, is ready to begin work for 20th Century-Fox on a film entitled simply Che.
(Time, 17 May 1968)
Students from California to Paris rebelled against the pitiful state of their education system. They challenged their institutions bourgeoisie bias, autocratic structure and financial corruption.
Classic Marxist perspective:
‘Passive resistance was a contradiction, resistance that was no resistance, a product of the bourgeoisie’s recognition of the need for resistance coupled with its fear to act accordingly.’ (Micheal Randle)
‘The “legal basis” meant that the legal title of the people, revolution, did not exist in the contract social between the government and the bourgeoisie.’ (Karl Marx)