Email this review


Hayden is an SDS leader from way back and at one point a critical supporter of Robert Kennedy. During the Columbia strike it was said that ""He supports our methods but not our goals,"" in sardonic tribute to his infatuation with radical action toward fuzzily modest reforms. Issues of means rather than ends dominate the transcripts of his HUAC and Violence Commission testimony which make up this book. To take the book seriously means pinning down the conflict between his ultra-democratic side (he complains that young men don't get to vote on wars) and his guerrilla-elite side (""the people will support us as their warriors""). Whatever he is, he is not a communist: ""The political structures belonging to the community are needed to bargain for and maintain control over funds from government or private sources."" But perhaps the book is best taken more lightly as a nouvelle vague version of The Child Buyer. The HUAC exchanges center around Chicago, Hayden insists that ""None of us [organizers] thought that our purpose would be served by violence,"" and observes to the sincere mystification of his interlocutors ""Since when is obscenity a reason for a policeman to hit you over the head?"". . . . It's the kind of transcript easy to pan or puff with selected quotes; it is alternately amusing and scary; it should find a considerable second hearing, especially if the Democratic Convention theme is publicized.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1969
Publisher: World