This review appears in the Milwaukee Shepherd Express, Expresso column, Oct 3, 2002, Vol 23, Issue 40.
Get Your Left Out
By Doug Hissom
Longing for the days of the hippies, Zippies, Yippies, Maoists, Revolutionary Union, SDS, Weather Underground and other anti-government acronym-based groups? Madison radical political activist Max Elbaum has put out a book recalling those heydays of the failed revolution of the late 1960s called Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao, and Che. The 370-page tome is mainly a look at what went wrong back then-which was pretty much an ideological fracture among the groups, or “an utter lack of humility” between them, so to speak. Bascially, if you were with one acronym, you didn’t get along with the other. Dogma ruled the day, and there was plenty of debate over it.
One reviewer calls the book “like a flashback without the rhetoric.” Others praise it for its historical leap back into Marxist-Leninist scholarship.
How does this apply now? Given that the protest fronts are now anti-globalization, as witnessed last week in Washington, D.C., Elbaum might be hoping that the ’60s Old Left could be of some use to the youngsters on the front lines now-that they not be written off like the New Left in the 1960s was by the old guard of the 1930s.
As Tony Platt writes of Elbaum’s book in the Los Angeles Times, “It should be required reading for those interested in the modern history of social movements and for radicals of my generation who are trying to figure out what went so wrong. And to the generation of anti-globalization activists who continue the journey for social justice, Revolution in the Air passes on the advice they need to chart a new map.”