THE URBAN GUERRILLA by Martin Oppenheimer


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The New Left theorists and activists have long been aware that theirs is a revolutionary movement that exists without a popular base. Marcuse has counselled them to hustle while they await (the awakening of the under rather than working class). Here Oppenheimer advocates little more. His thesis is that ""a revolutionary situation potentially exists in this country."" But after surveying the processes of such a revolution--drawing on numerous historical examples and sociological precepts--he concludes that ""A revolution cannot be artificially induced."" This analysis is not new--but then Oppenheimer intends his book as a synthesis of sociological theories of revolution. He differentiates the varieties of urban guerrilla activity: terrorism; an underground; the general strike; armed insurrection. Ultimately, then, he places insurrectionary warfare in the context of social movements (in Europe and the United States) and into the context of collective behavior theory. He analyzes the revolutionary personality (with its authoritarian tendencies) and the conflicts of ideology, concluding that ""the party-less, program-less movement of action"" called confrontation politics leads to all the excesses of revolution, whereas only ""nonviolence is inherently a democratizing influence."" Like his Manual for Direct Action, which was widely used by those in the civil rights and anti-draft movements, The Urban Guerrilla collates material of value to activists. It is sufficiently free of sociological jargon and New Left assumptions to make it a solid study, providing a timetable and perspective on revolution for the general reader.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Quadrangle