OSAWATOMIE: A Weather Underground Publications Anthology
BATT Coop, 2021, Softcover, 234 pages, 29 × 22.4 cm
Osawatomie is a direct allusion to the eponymous battle waged by the abolitionist John Brown of whom Victor Hugo at the time of saving him from hanging says "Yes, let America know and think about it, there is something more frightening than Cain killing Abel, it is Washington killing Spartacus". By his call to the armed struggle to fight slavery Brown is part of a revolutionary culture which links him in particular to Auguste Blanqui.
At a time when the United States of America seems once again affected by the fever of resistance against racial and social inequalities, it seems opportune to put the documents of the radicals of the 1960s and 1970s back into circulation. The context of the struggle for civil rights and the military expansion in Vietnam then allowed the emergence of a militant generation such as the country had not known since the crushing of the unionism of the IWW (Industrial Worker of the World) and the hunt for communists. From Ghettos to Universities, groups are suddenly forming and organizing in the middle of the sixties into a whole, that history calls New Left. Among them, the student union movement is experiencing through the SDS (Student for a Democratic Society) a peak of 100,000 inscribed members, torn within it by two political organizations, one based on Marxist Leninist orthodoxy, strongly tinged with workerism, refusing the contextual analysis of racial tensions and the particular history of the USA, the Worker Student Alliance (WSA). The other, majority in the SDS, the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) wishing to accompany the resistance movements of the Young Lords to the Black Panther Party, opting after the dissolution of the SDS for a strategy of participation in the increase of tensions and confrontations with the power and reactionary America. Thus are formed the Weather Underground in allusion to the words of a Bob Dylan song "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", prophetic adhesion to the imminence of a world revolution. While they are not about taking power, it is about accompanying it to its downfall. Its members, numbering 30, exclusively from the white petty bourgeoisie went underground from 1969 relying on a strong network of thousands of sympathizers. They carry out attacks of symbolic significance which never claim victims, and become much more radicalized in their autarky and publish in low circulation, Osawatomie, a newspaper sent mainly to their relays supposed to withdraw and distribute the publication which will know 6 issues in a year before disappearing with the organization.
The complete collection is reproduced in this book, along with the brochure explaining the organizational explosion, the split. Feminism, anti-imperialist struggle, Vietnam, racism and segregation, sexism, workers' struggles, anti-colonialists, anti-prison in addition to the political orientations of the revolutionary movement are all themes addressed.