Capitalism and Media

While there is much controversy going on about The Weather Underground, it is pertinent that we note that their main goal was the same reason we have White Privilege Awareness today. To get white kids to identify with anti-racism and anti-imperialism, which in their perspective came inevitably with armed struggle. The Weather Underground ultimately failed for a multitude of reasons, some having to do with our government, as Anthony has pointed out in his article “Guerilla Militancy: A Viable Option?”. Other mistakes have to do with their own tactical mishaps (i.e. Greenwich Village Townhouse Explosion), the struggle of gaining the masses (seen in “Days of Rage”), and the struggle of organizing whites against white supremacy. For these reasons The Weather Underground serves as an influential historical perspective of grass roots activism against white supremacy.

Terrorism is a social construct (talked about in “Violence and Terrorism”) and a complicated issue at that, which we note in our “Discussion on Terrorism”. Why is The Weather Underground framed as “terrorists” and not The Boston Tea Party?–Who have along with the government done much worse. Violence and white supremacy were all issues that The Weather Underground brought up and still don’t have any answers to. Despite not having all of the answers, they believed what was worse was not acting at all. Capitalism shapes our history, just as George Oswell put it in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four, “Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

With this information, discussions are encouraged to find deeper meaning to and from The Weather Underground which will add to our understanding of human connection, communication and social movements.

Guerrilla Militancy: A Viable Option?

We have seen how the Weather Underground organization has taken the role of guerrilla militants in an effort to advocate for mass scale social change. This question still remains however: Was this even a viable option for movement tactics to begin with? Throughout history, we’ve seen many militant guerrilla forces succeed over a larger government oppressor, the most contemporary of which being in Russia, China, and Cuba, However not a single one of these movements have been successful within a modern democracy. Does a modern democracy, such as the United States have a power structure and dynamic social system in which a militant revolution that is deemed radical to be useful? Or has a movement just not maintained the longevity and conviction in order to succeed in the action. This Article will be examining the idea of modern democratic militancy, and will discuss issues of this tactical option to expose it’s possible effects in promoting social change.

Disclaimer: A few controversial topics such as the hypothetical idea of national terrorism in an effort to promote positive social change will be discussed within this article. In no way, shape, or form am I advocating for guerrilla militancy, or a radical takeover of the government. Any form of subjective language that may seem to arise for or against these ideals are completely coincidental. This article is simply to pose a question and facilitate academic discussion from a non bias, objective basis.

Lets start by viewing the 3 most prominent guerrilla revolutions within the last century. The first of these 3 was the Russian revolution of 1917, in which the people of Russia coming off the decline from a turbulent World War One period overthrew the czarist regime that was the autocratic leadership of the nation for the majority of its past. In march of 1917 turbulent revolution centered around what would now be known as St. Petersburg, lead by the Soviets (or workers councils), overthrew the czarist autocracy, and instated a provisional government lead by the former imperial parliament. Soon after, in November of 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin, combined with the lower class worker power of the Soviets, began to form militias in a mass guerrilla tactic, that would later join together to form the Red Guard, later known as the Red Army. Using this force of working class soldiers the Bolsheviks and Soviets overthrew the provisional government, and later after an upheaval of civil unrest formed the U.S.S.R or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Second of these 3 major (initially) guerrilla uprisings occurred during the Chinese Revolution, also known as the Chinese Civil War between 1948 and 1952. The revolution itself occurred in 1949. What once started as a communist Guerrilla revolution in China, being the Chinese Soviet Republic lead, by Mao Zedong, flourished by the time of 1948 to include much of Northern China. Against the in power Chinese Nationalist party, who also had superior numbers, weapons, and privy to excess amounts of U.S. support, the Chinese Soviet Republic, who at this point had become the Chinese Communist Party, still managed to succeed. Due to superior morale, information and the use of Guerrilla tactics. It was in October 1949 that Mao Zedong was able to proclaim China officially as The People’s Republic of China.

The final of the 3 most contemporary militant take-overs, and also the one which holds the most historically traditional ideology of the guerrilla war, was the Cuban Revolution. During the years of 1953 to 1959, Fidel Castro and later Che Guevara, led the 26 July Movement against the Batista dictatorship regime, and its foreign support, most prominent of which was a wealthy United States. Starting with small rural guerrilla tactics and slowly gaining support by the population. Until January 1st 1969 The Batista regime was removed from power and a new revolutionary government lead by Castro took control.

So what do these three guerrilla movements have in common, besides the fact that they all lead to communism. Well each one was not against a democratic government, however it is interesting to note that except for Russia, The United States supported the government in power. This is an especially odd coincidence considering the country itself was founded by what could easily be considered a guerrilla militant revolution. Also all of these still occurred over 60 years ago and technology has changed dramatically sense that point. On a different note however all three movements fought against what was considered a form of oppressive imperialism, an ideology very similar to The Weather Underground. All three of these movements also started as small militant groups banding together into a driving force against a single government, also similar to the Weather Underground. So using these 3 revolutions as a lens we could possibly answer the question, is a militant guerrilla social movement a feasible way to facilitate change within a modern democracy? Or was the Weather Underground doomed from the start?

Lets begin with the idea of a modernized government impeding the ability of a Guerrilla movement to succeed. Although modern technology has brought with it new forms of firearms, surveillance, and counter-terrorism techniques, a modern nation still doesn’t pose much of a new counter guerrilla threat than one 50 years ago. The question still remains though as to why? When it comes to a more above ground mass revolutionary tactic, such as large scale protest and rioting, the specific technology really has not changed to much in the last 50 years, at least on a mass scale, of how to quell such actions.This relating primarily to harmful and oppressive types of technology, certain other developments such as the cell phone have entered the field, however considering information is far more of a necessity to the guerrilla, if anything they have helped revolutionary movements. Although taser’s and certain sonic weapons which have not entered the general police force are now being used, the use of riot police, tear gas, and rubber bullets still to this day, make up the general counter riot armament. This means that the tactics used 50 years ago by protestors and rioters alike, both in the United states and in foreign movements, both revolutionary, can still not hold weight. There’s many examples of riots growing and over-coming police forces throughout history, so to that degree technology has not truly impeded the “above ground” or mass actions of a militant guerrilla social movement.

What about quelling the “underground” or militant armed portion of a guerrilla social movement. Surely with new technological advances in firearms and lethal weaponry, a government force could easily overpower a guerrilla uprising. While being true to a degree, this still does not pose a large damper in the success of possible guerrilla militancy. With both the Cuban and Chinese revolution the forces of the government had far better weapons and far more soldiers. A guerrilla force firstly survives through it’s tactics. By avoiding large scale decisive conflicts and surviving by using strictly offensive surprise attacks that render the enemy confused and disoriented, a guerrilla force “evens the odds”, if you will. Secondly a guerrilla force gets past this with a normally higher morale based on ideology. Within Mao’s little red book he describes how even an untrained revolutionary willing to die for a cause he believes in will far surpass a paid enforcer of government law. The book “Social aspects of Guerilla and Anti-Guerilla Warfare” By: Eliezer Ben-Rafael & Moshe Lissak, also agrees with this ideology. Although not strictly academic there’s a great example of this ideal within guerrilla warfare presented in The Godfather part: 2. In which when discussing the Cuban revolution there’s an exchange of words between Michael Corleone and a guest of Hyman Roth saying, Michael: [about the unrest in Cuba] We saw a strange thing on our way here. Some rebels were being arrested and instead of being arrested, one of them pulled the pin on a grenade he had hidden in his jacket. He took himself and the captain of the command with him. Guest: Ah, the rebels are insane! Michael: Maybe. But the soldiers are paid to fight; the rebels aren’t. Hyman Roth: What does that tell you? Michael: They can win.

Also within the aspect of modern weaponry both Che Guevara and Carlos Marighella discuss in their writings how as the enemies weapons improve so does the movements. This is due to the fact that most of the weapons a Guerrilla movement acquires will be from enemy hands, both on the battle field and in raid scenarios. Meaning that as the technology level of the government grows so does the technology of the weapons used by opposing forces. The question still remains about weapons that damage large areas such as missiles, bombs, and heavy air to ground weaponry. although true that a single use of one of these devices could entirely devastate a single guerrilla cell, the guerrilla counteracts these in two very different ways. Firstly guerrilla cell locations, besides being extremely secretive in most cases, are also constantly moving, making planning an attack difficult. This in combination with multiple cells throughout the nation, means this would not be a very fruitful counter guerrilla tactic.

Another and arguably more powerful counter to the use of these weapons is the collateral damage potential they posses. Within any government especially, a democratic one, a single death from collateral damage could be far more disastrous for the institution, advantaging the Guerrilla movement. In his writings “The Handbook of the Urban Guerrilla”, Carlos Marighella states in reference to the use of bombs, and mass destructive weapons that, “With a single innocent death, the words of the movement will spread farther, than the blast ever could.”

Now although we’ve scene how a modern society, strictly from a technology sense, creates very little resistance towards possible guerrilla activism, the ideology of a democratic society puts far more of a damper and deterrent for such types of social movements. Due to such institutionalized rights such as right to protest and freedom of speech, as well as the fact that a democratic government is ran by and for the people, the ability of a group to advocate for a particular cause in a peaceful non-violent way, is far greater than in other nations where guerrilla militancy has succeeded. Even looking at the time of The Weather Underground where a mass collective of individuals where fighting against various forms of government control, very few even tried militant activism, and where arguably far more successful. A major difference being that the most basic premise of guerrilla activism being government overthrow rather than legal or social change.

To this degree the only feasible way a guerrilla movement could succeed within a democratic society, comes down to a few major key things. Firstly the government itself has to go against the ideology of the masses, similar to what was seen with the entrance into The Vietnam War. The Government then has to continue opposing mass ideology and furthering it’s own personal goals. Individuals within the masses must then consciously see this chain of events, and gain support, through non-violent means, while at the same time protesting and raising their concerns to the government as a whole. Over the course of time the government must continue to ignore, and or completely repute these concerns, and began to respond to mass demonstration with hostility, and these actions continue frequently overtime. A large portion of the masses then has to hold true to the ideology that complete government change is the best solution and begin to gain support and react accordingly. Only if this chain events continues over time, could a militant guerrilla social movement feasibly succeed within a democratic nation.

Preface: Terrorism, US Imperialism and Corporate Media

The Weather Underground is a topic that addresses issues across time and space. While it took place in the 70s, issues such as terrorism, US imperialism and corporate media have been dealt with by many walks of life. This website was not created in order to take sides or say what’s right or wrong, instead we aim to bring light to a history, that is in many cases unheard, and deals with pertinent issues of our time. In this way we hope to aid discussions, like that of which Anthony and I have recorded on the website, that further our understanding of such complicated issues.

The website we have created consists of multiple medias including video, audio, links to journals and news articles, and a blog style format in hopes of making an intriguing and well rounded site. It is a unique site that deals with many of The Weather Underground issues talked about in multiple books including Bill Ayers’ “Fugitive Days” and Mark Rudd’s “Underground”. By looking at historical actions and how they are framed today we hope to gain a firmer understanding of the issues that were present both then and today. On top of that we would like to make it accessible to the masses, a free forum where comments and further discussion are openly welcomed.

Public opposition to the war, domestic and international terrorism, government corruption and the fact that we are calling The Weather Underground terrorists when the US has done so much worse are all issues that are commonplace then and now. In one interview by Good Morning America posted on the website Ayers notes that we need to look at the Weather Underground in the context of its time because it was when the US was in the war with Vietnam and bombing Laos. In the interview this point wasn’t taken seriously but when you look at the definition of “terrorism” and see that it’s violence and intimidation you cannot say that the US did not and does not even today fall under that category. Using the word “terrorism” implies something new since 9/11, something more than violent; Terrorism implies striking fear into the people and killing mass amounts of people and The Weather Underground does not fit under those categories… the US well, that’s another argument.

Days of Rage

On October 8th-10th 1969, The Weathermen hosted a protest in Chicago. Fallowing John Jacobs ideology of “bringing the war home”, this protest was title “Days of Rage”, and was created in an effort to bring public awareness to a higher level about the war in Vietnam. This protest in accordance with Vietnam was also an effort to bring to light the ideology of a brutal imperialistic America.

Although the protest failed to draw as many members as expected, only a few hundred attended, the event did not fail to raise public awareness, and present a message. The first rally held on October 8th, shocked the public eye when members of the Weatherman rioted through Chicago’s upper-class Gold Coast neighborhood. They smashed the windows of parked expensive cars, broke into lining banks, and multiple retail business, as well as attempting arson on one of mentioned banks. The riot continued 4 blocks before encountering police barricades. These first barricades however, where broken by rioters, and the protest continued until finally Chicago police sent in over 500 officers with tear gas and riot gear to quell the rioters. In the aftermath 28 police officers where injured, 6 Weatherman where shot, and another 68 members where arrested.

Although the Weatherman held no more rallies until October 10th. On October 9th, Mike Klonsky, and Noel Ignatin with the S.D.S held a peaceful march  of over 2000 international members through Chicago.

On October 10th the Weathermen continued their demonstrations marching through the Loop, Chicago’s premier business area. With over 300 protesters the Weatherman where being watched by multiple line of riot officers. Despite this protection the Protesters eventually broke through the line officers smashing car windows and store fronts. This however only lasted about 15 minutes, and resulted in the arrest of about half the Weathermen members.

Although the Weathermen protest resulted in the incarceration of many members, the idea behind the riots was not lost, nor was the message. The actions of “Days of Rage”, would act as a cataclysm, for the S.D.S December convention in Flint Michigan, aptly named the Flint War Council.


The war in Vietnam and the civil rights movement motivated many Americans, black and white, to get involved in protests, riots, and in overthrowing the government. The Weather Underground was composed of predominately white middle class students who felt that not acting was in itself violence. By taking the sides of the Vietnamese, blacks, and the oppressed, they felt they were leaving the side of the oppressor (which they were born into). Peaceful means were being exhausted, just as John F. Kennedy said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

The WUO formed out of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) which splintered around the same time. While trying to get SDS to join the militant cause, the Society fell from it’s grips and may be one reason why the WUO went underground, unable to motivate the masses in riots and rallies. The “Days of Rage” in Chicago were the true turning point for WUO to go underground though, when only a few hundred showed up to what they expected to be a huge rally to destroy the corporate downtown and give America a little taste of the war that was happening in Vietnam.

After going underground they successfully bombed the pentagon, state department and capital building along with others. This change in tactics made each attack deliberate and meaningful; when George Jackson was killed by prison guards, the WUO bombed the Department of Corrections in San Francisco and the Office of California Prisons in Sacramento; the Kent State shootings lead the WUO to bomb the National Guard Association building in DC; when the US bombed Laos, the WUO bombed the US Capitol building; when the US raided Hanoi, the WUO attacked the pentagon.

While they used bombs as a counter to US imperialism, they went to great extents trying not to harm any person in the making. After their unsuccessful attempt at bombing an “officer’s dance” at Fort Dix, New Jersey which would have killed many police officers and their families, and instead killing three of their own in the what was to become known as The Greenwich Townhouse Explosion when the bomb went off unsuccessfully, the WUO’s tactics again changed. Now they were issuing warnings about the bombs in order to prevent injuries.

[image courtesy of SDS website] By this time the WUO were on the FBI’s most wanted list, with a full-scale manhunt for them issued in 1973, it was eventually halted because CIA admitted to illegally obtaining evidence, many charges, including those from the Days of Rage were therefore dropped. Today, three of the WUO are college professors, one is in jail, three are dead, all living their lives, but why are they called “terrorists”? What does the conservative media aim to do by framing them as such? Is it possible for a violent social movement to successfully overthrow US government and imperialism today (inciting national revolution and evading the FBI)?