First Published: Berkeley Barb, Janaury 12-18, 1968.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Factions within the Peace and Freedom Party are beginning to take visible form as the new party begins to shape its future prior to its first statewide convention.
A meeting last weekend in Pasadena gave a clue to the divergent viewpoints competing for official status as PFP policy. Besides a strong liberal contingent, the Pasadena session had a radical caucus, a Black caucus, and a hip caucus. Since it was not intended as an action meeting, the only resolution adopted was to support Fluey P. Newton, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Le Roi Jones, H. Rap Brown and others recently arrested by the establishment.
Problems of organization took up most, of the meeting time. Some wanted a mass convention of all PFP registrants, others wanted a convention of locally elected delegates, and still others favored a delegate convention which could take no action but would reserve concrete decisions to the local organizations.
The radical caucus was unhappy with the focus on organizational problems. Bob Avakian, a member of the radical, caucus, told how it came about.
“They became so wrapped up in organization in order to avoid another Chicago-type Black Caucus. They worried about that instead of trying to build a political movement.”
“Frankly,” Avakian said, “the purpose of the radical caucus is to develop a. radical organization right away, before it becomes frozen to a liberal mold.”
Not only the radical caucus is concerned about the Peace and Freedom Party becoming a flaccid liberal organization. PFP organizer Mike Parker also said that a liberal stance could come to dominate the party.
To avoid the slide into moderate electioneering, PFP should maintain its ties with the movement it grew from, and give support to demonstrations, he said.
Parker proposed a two-house convention, in which both the Black and white houses would have to agree in order to adopt any official proposal as a whole party. Avakian, however, maintains that radicals cannot solve such structural problems “prematurely.”
“The question,” he says, “is this: is the Peace and Freedom Party an arena in which radical Blacks can participate? I say, no. Black radicals should work in Black organizations.
“They would be welcome as human beings, but could not be considered spokesmen for Black power.”
He emphasized, that his view was consistent with the Black Power concept described by Stokley Carmichael: Black and white radicals should work within their own communities, neither being subservient to the other in an organizational structure.
“The Black Panthers,” Avakian said, might decide to come to the convention as an organization fraternal to the Peace and Freedom Party–but not as a part of it.”
While the liberals at Pasadena were still dreaming of establishment dove Senator Eugene McCarthy, the hip caucus–formally styled the Paisley Power Caucus–was leafleting for its own special planks in the PFP platform. Their goals, the most concrete platform yet proposed by a PFP faction, include “an end to police harassment, abolition of the draft; non-enforcement and repeal of laws against marijuana and LSD, the 18 year old vote, fully legalized abortion, official recognition of bohemians as a minority entitled to protection from overt discrimination in housing and employment, repeal of anti-sex laws, and generally the freedom to do our thing.”
Maneuvering for power continues every day in local PFP meetings throughout the state. All bets are still off.