Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 25, 2019

Radical America Komiks

Filed under: Counterpunch,humor,Kevin Coogan — louisproyect @ 3:42 pm


By a happy coincidence, I received a review copy of “Radical America Komiks” from PM Press on the very day my review of Allen Young’s autobiography appeared on CounterPunch. Allen Young worked for Liberation News Service (LNS), a radical version of the Associated Press that forwarded articles to SDS chapters around the country, while Radical America was an official SDS publication launched by Paul Buhle meant to raise awareness on the left about the long history of anti-capitalist resistance in the USA. Unlike the old left, LNS and Radical America absorbed the counter-culture of the period. The one-off publication of Radical America Komiks in 1969 was arguably the most fully developed expression of this cross-fertilization and as such we are grateful to PM Press for publishing a replica of the ground-breaking comic book.

Back in 1967, about a month or so after joining the quintessentially old-left Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, fellow New School Graduate philosophy Ph.D. student Arthur Maglin who had recruited me to the sect, was showing me around the bookstore at party headquarters near Union Square. He picked up a copy of Radical America and described it as great reading. Just a decade later, something like Radical America would never be found in an SWP bookstore and recommending it might have gotten you expelled. When I got on the Internet in 1991, it did not take long for me to establish a connection with Paul Buhle whose vision of left unity coincided with my own as a refugee from sectarianism. I only wish that I could have gotten into a time-machine and returned to 1967 to help write for Radical America. I once asked Peter Camejo if he could have turned back the clock, when he would have made the decision to quit the SWP—knowing what he then knew. Without skipping a beat, he replied the week after he joined.

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  1. For those who care about such things, there is a fantastic anthology/history of the underground press edited by Ken Wachsberger, where you can locate the cartoons in the broader context of LNS. Also on the history of LNS and the split with Bloom/Mungo, see my comment on Allen Young.

    Insider histories of the Vietnam era underground press / edited by Ken Wachsberger.
    Imprint East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, c2011.

    Comment by HH — January 25, 2019 @ 3:57 pm

  2. Well Camejo is totally correct about his leaving in a week it would have served him well. Barnes never liked Camejo and actually plotted against him, why because he had no allegiance to Barnes and he better represented the emerging student radicalization than Jack did and more because the old national leadership liked Camejo. He was a much better speaker than Jack and much more facile he could take on all comers at open debate and Jack couldn’t. The left YPSL’s like Tom Barton and David Kamatsu would tear Jack up but not Peter.

    Comment by Michael Tormey — January 26, 2019 @ 1:45 pm

  3. Wow. You were in the SWP? You should include that information in more of your posts.

    Comment by Max Power — January 26, 2019 @ 2:34 pm

  4. So what were you in? Your parents’ basement trolling my blog?

    Comment by louisproyect — January 26, 2019 @ 2:59 pm

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