A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America

By William H. Chafe; Harvard Sitkoff et al. | Go to book overview

You Don’t Need a Weatherman
to Know Which Way the Wind
Blows (1969)

Karin Ashley

Bill Ayers

Bernardine Dohrn

John Jacobs

Jeff Jones

Gerry Long

Howie Machtinger

Jim Mellen

Terry Robbins

Mark Rudd

Steve Tappis

Just seven years after the Port Huron Statement, SDS met again in national convention. In the intervening years the war in Vietnam had expanded dramatically, the integrationist petitions of the early Civil Rights movement had turned into demands for Black Power and a movement for student autonomy had generated massive protests on university campuses. For at least some, the primary lesson of the sixties had been the impossibility of securing change peacefully. Teach-ins at universities had not changed the government’s Vietnam policy; campaigns on behalf of antiwar candidates seemed an exercise in futility; for those who were most bitter and radicalized, revolution seemed the only answer. With young people as an advance party, these activists demanded that SDS support a worldwide revolution against capitalism and imperialism. The following selection from the Weatherman Manifesto—“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”—appears, in retrospect, a hopelessly doctrinaire plea. Just one year later three of those who endorsed it blew themselves to pieces making bombs in Greenwich Village. Yet the statement also reflects just how corrosive the 1960s had been in destroying the idealism of seven years earlier.

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