Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies

Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies

Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies

Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies

Synopsis

In this first comprehensive comparison of left-wing violence in the United States and West Germany, Jeremy Varon focuses on America's Weather Underground and Germany's Red Army Faction to consider how and why young, middle-class radicals in prosperous democratic societies turned to armed struggle in efforts to overthrow their states. Based on a wealth of primary material, ranging from interviews to FBI reports, this book reconstructs the motivation and ideology of violent organizations active during the 1960s and 1970s. Varon conveys the intense passions of the era--the heat of moral purpose, the depth of Utopian longing, the sense of danger and despair, and the exhilaration over temporary triumphs. Varon's compelling interpretation of the logic and limits of dissent in democratic societies provides striking insights into the role of militancy in contemporary protest movements and has wide implications for the United States' current "war on terrorism."

Varon explores Weatherman and RAF's strong similarities and the reasons why radicals in different settings developed a shared set of values, languages, and strategies. Addressing the relationship of historical memory to political action, Varon demonstrates how Germany's fascist past influenced the brutal and escalating nature of the West German conflict in the 60s and 70s, as well as the reasons why left-wing violence dropped sharply in the United States during the 1970s. "Bringing the War Home is a fascinatin

Excerpt

Until the Days of Rage, Weatherman existed primarily as an analysis, an impulse, a promise, and a threat. The group proclaimed action to be the great catalyst—the agony of the New Left and the riddle of imperialism solved. Violent confrontation in Chicago would overcome demoralization within the movement, greatly expand its base of support, and, most ambitiously, spark a second American revolution. With this exhortation to militancy, conveyed with a mix of heartfelt conviction and thuggish righteousness, Weatherman had aroused the curiosity, suspicion, and fear of the left and of those few within the mainstream conscious of its voice. The group had provided little basis, though, for judging the substance of its gospel of action.

The prediction of movement skeptics that the Weathermen would lead vulnerable youths into massacre did not come to pass; nor did the Days of Rage remotely satisfy Weatherman's hope of devastating a major American city. Only a few hundred demonstrators, nearly all of them Weathermen, came to Chicago. They used chains and pipes to destroy property and battle police. Denounced by much of the left, ignored by working-class youths, and opposed by thousands of police and soldiers, the Weathermen were routed in Chicago. Weatherman had nonetheless honored its commitment. It had acted. Yet during and after the Days of Rage, there was little understanding of what the action meant, either for Weatherman, the movement, or the nation as a whole; in their lack of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.