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Revolution in America: The Transitional Slogan


By David Haldane

Aug. 6, 2020


Sometimes I see it in dreams.

It was 1972, an election year in America much like the one we’re in now. I lived in New York City then because I believed it to be the epicenter of action. By action, I mean revolution. By revolution, I mean the overthrow of the U.S. government by any means necessary in favor of Marxist socialism.

I spent most of my nights that crazy year driving a taxicab along the eerily lit streets of the city. Then, at daybreak, I’d make my way over to the downtown headquarters of the Young Socialist Alliance for a daily dose of training.

I’ve forgotten much of it, but one thing I remember clearly is a concept called the “transitional slogan.” A transitional slogan, our instructors explained, is one with which many agree. But like the tip of an iceberg, it disguises something more substantial-a hidden agenda-tucked neatly underneath. And just like an iceberg, any ship of state encountering it will soon disappear beneath the waves.

Back then our transitional slogan was “End the War Now” referring to America’s involvement in the unpopular Vietnam War. Today’s transitional slogan, I believe, is “Black Lives Matter.” It gives me no joy to say that because, like most Americans, I can’t disagree with the slogan. What I fear, though, is the cold dark ice propping it up from below.

My internal radar screen first lit up several weeks ago when, watching the news, I got the uncanny feeling that all this had happened before. So it didn’t surprise me to find an old YouTube video in which one of BLM’s founders describes herself and her cohorts as “trained Marxists.” Nor was I shocked by reading their self-described “anti-capitalist” platform containing such proposals as abolishing all prisons and police; defunding the military; ending pretrial detention; retroactively decriminalizing drugs and prostitution; paying reparations and a guaranteed minimum income to blacks; boycotting the “apartheid” State of Israel; and reorganizing the nuclear family.

“We believe in transformation and a radical realignment of power,” the platform says, using textbook Marxist jargon. “The interlinked systems of white supremacy, imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy shape the violence we face. As oppressed people living in the US, the belly of the global empire, we are in a critical position to build the necessary connections for a global liberation movement.”

I don’t believe for a minute that most of those now protesting behind the BLM banner consider themselves Marxists. Nor do I think many support what the platform calls the movement’s  “transformative goals” (read transitional slogans). Though none of that really matters, at least not yet.

I got a whiff of why not back in the early ‘70s when the Marxist organization to which I belonged bussed me and dozens of other young recruits to Cleveland, Ohio, for the national convention of the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War. The SMC, as we called it, was a large coalition of groups forming the backbone of the student movement against U.S. involvement in Vietnam. And our mission at its annual gathering, we were told in no uncertain terms, was to make sure that things went our way.

“Watch your floor leaders,” the coordinator told us at a meeting before the main session. “If there’s ever any confusion, just vote with them.”

We did and, sure enough, by the time the convention ended not only was its agenda identical to ours, but three of the organization’s five newly elected national board members had arrived with us on the bus. For me, it was a lesson in how a small but determined, organized, and disciplined minority can impose its will on a much larger group lacking leadership and direction. And it was that lesson, among others, that ultimately drove me away from the Left.

We never achieved the revolution we envisioned. Though we eventually ended the war, Richard Nixon–a conservative Republican–won the 1972 election by a landslide. And yet here we are 48 years later; while our support never reached beyond college students, BLM now enjoys the admiration and sympathy of university presidents, business leaders, Hollywood stars, mainstream media, city councils, mayors, and virtually the entire Democratic Party. In fact, the party’s presumed presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has yet to utter a single sentence against it.

“This is what the revolution looks like,” Andrew C. McCarthy wrote in a recent piece for the conservative National Review entitled “The Revolution is Winning.” In it, he details the many direct connections between that old movement and what’s happening now. “The goals of the revolution have never changed,” McCarthy wrote. “The 1960s never ended, they just paved the way for today.”

So why should any of us care?

A column in the Wall Street Journal tells it like it is. “As the adage goes,” writes Daniel Schwammenthal, a German living in Belgium, “when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. Right now America has pneumonia.”



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David Haldane is the author of an award-winning memoir called “Nazis & Nudists.” A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an American journalist, essayist, and broadcaster whose radio work received a 2018 Golden Mike from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. He currently lives in Surigao City with his Filipino wife and their two children. http:///



Originally published in Mindanao Gold Star Daily

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