Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

R.F., Guardian staff correspondent

PL declares split, elects ’SDS’ officers

Published: Guardian, June 28, 1969. 
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Coliseum here was strangely devoid of conflict on its final day as host to left politics.

There were few debates and near unanimity on the floor. Students from SDS had left, having expelled the Progressive Labor party. But PL remained, along with the worker-student alliance, to continue “the SDS convention.” They elected three national officers and eight national interim committee members.

The new officers–proclaiming themselves head of the only SDS–were elected without opposition. Meanwhile SDS met at the First Congregational Church to elect officers for the coming year.

For PL and the WSA, the new national secretary is John Pennington, WSA and PL traveler in New England. Their interorganizational secretary is Pat Forman of San Francisco State College WSA. Alan Spector, a New England regional traveler who stayed in the PL-WSA meeting after SDS walked out but says he is not a member of PL or WSA, was named education secretary.

A full slate of eight nominees for the national interim committee (NIC) was introduced, and PLers and WSAers slipped their pink delegates’ cards up and down in support of each candidate as John Pennington read off the names. By Sunday, many had left the convention. According to one count, there were 114 card-carrying delegate members in the hall, along with about 30 national members–approximately 600 votes, since each delegate represents five chapter members.

The Independent Socialist Clubs, with some 500 members present, offered token opposition to the PL-WSA position during the afternoon and the SDS labor committee rah a NIC candidate in the evening, but all deviations were preordained to defeat. The only “opposition” came in the form of farce, when Jared Israel, a PLer from Boston nominated for the NIC, was hooted and jeered by fellow PLers Jeff Gordon and Rick Rhoads as he tried to speak. Israel was elected without objection.

What now?

PL leader John Levin told the body on June 22, following the SDS departure, that the “real” SDS would remain nonexclusionist, that building a mass organization around the dictatorship of the proletariat was not a good idea at this time and that new SDS members should be won to the socialist position.

PL and the WSA passed a resolution analyzing the expulsion as a “split.” They said: “We of this convention repudiate this disgraceful anticommunist and anti-working-class attack of this splinter group on the PL party, the WSA caucus and, in fact, on all members of SDS, regardless of their position on various other questions.”

They called on the departed group to return, promised to take the SDS struggle back to the campus and urged that people “dare to struggle, dare to win.”

The meeting was broken up with a performance by the WSA radical arts group burlesqueing the struggle around People’s Park in Berkeley. In came a mad-looking individual dressed in a red cape, apparently a Berkeley revolutionary. He pointed insanely at the sky, seeming quite agitated. After flowers were brought out and placed on the stage he took off his cape, blazoned “LEFT OVER,” and placed it on the flowers.

Will PL and WSA set up its own “SDS” national office, put out its own newspaper? There were no immediate answers, but PL was attempting to obtain as many signatures as it could to put on its “SDS mailing list.”

Pennington’s home in Boston will reportedly serve as temporary headquarters for PL’s “SDS.”