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Student Alliance.” The idea was to replace the Left that the unions had barred and expelled during the active phase of McCarthyism. The PLP’s slogan, “Build a Base in the Working Class,” offered radical students a plan, not only for our student years, but for the rest of our lives. Most SDSers did not envision hanging around campus until we were in our late 20s or early 30s, as Pardun and the prairie leaders did. The draft was a transient issue in our personal lives, and organizing the New Working Class didn’t appear to make sense: In those heady days, most radical students regarded schoolteachers and accountants as fascists, anyway. But several industries were experiencing a wave of “wildcat” or spontaneous strikes, and on most shop floors, foremen didn’t care what workers thought as long as they didn’t show up stoned. There was a freedom in labor-short factories that wasn’t available elsewhere. The PLP told us to get jobs in manufacturing shops, and to remain there, agitating, until the Revolution came. Given the tumult of the sixties, most of us believed that if we could “Build a Base,” our sojourn wouldn’t last more than 20 years, and maybe not as long as that. Pardun did not oppose the WorkerStudent Alliance. But he denounced the tactics that the PLP brought into SDS. PLP minions argued and voted as a bloc, ill-disposed to the give-and-take that “participatory democracy” required. In a 1967 speech to a national meeting of SDS, Pardun warned that if factionalism wasn’t defused, the group would self-destruct in a couple of years. Indeed, in 1969, the factions came to a stand-off, and most of the prairie leaders walked out of SDS. It became a shell organization almost overnight. The protest movement did not die with SDS, however; the biggest antiwar rallies came in 1970, after the bombing of Cambodia. But the postSDS movement produced fewer multiissue malcontents, in part because universal conscription had been replaced by a lottery draft, and in part, I believe, because the Pope of American discontent, Dr. King, was dead and nearly enshrined. In Prairie Radical, Pardun makes an effort to account for the Austin chapter’s key moments. He describes pickets at the LBJ ranch, the founding of the Rag, the spread of Gentle Thursdays \(days of unorganized hanging out and singing on the West Mall’s former \(founder of the Rag and a member of the Communist Party shot to death in Free Speech protests of 1967. But he does not mention the Weedon demonstrations of 1969probably because of his anti-PLP bias. The Weedon action, an anti-racist sit-in on the driveway of a service station in which some 30 demonstrators were arrestedan Austin record for the decadewas led by the Black Student Alliance and PLP types. p ardun had not attended the 1969 summer SDS convention because, disgusted by both sides in the factional dispute, he had already dropped out. After a couple of years as a jewelry craftsman and wanderer, along with others who had belonged to Austin SDS, he fled to a commune in the Ozarks.There he lived in a yurt, staying in the hills until 1977, whenhe adopted a “normal” life as a high-order metalworker and welder. By then a parent, he even joined a fundamentalist church. His memoir indicates that he began to make sense of his former activismto defend it and rethink itwhen his church turned toward the Christian Right. While Pardun winnowed in the Ozarks, some of his former comrades tried new gambits to keep their radicalism alive. His third-phase lover, Marilyn Buck of Austin, was sent to prison where she remainsfor her role in a group called The Black Liberation Army. Several of Pardun’s SDS prairieleader friends, he learned from wanted posters in Ozarks post offices, were building bombs as the Weathermen. PLPers were meanwhile at work in the shops, hawking newspapers at unemployment offices and factory gates, attending meetings of union and Party groups. Those of us who had no dependents gave every second paycheck to the cause. Nothing characterized our lives so much as the bookshelves that we built in our closets, not so that nobody would see that we were Communists that was no scandal at the timebut so that nobody would dismiss us as eggheads. If anything broke our spirit, it was that between our agitation schedules and our work lives, we didn’t have time to read books and speculateand the PLP took a dim view of both pursuits, to boot. As for the workers, those who were literate were going to college, bound for the New Working Classand they weren’t looking back. By the time that Pardun came down from the hills, most of us had joined them, abandoning the PLP as we went. I have for several years proposed that SDS veterans put aside old differences to organize a new groupSeniors for a Democratic Society. But, Pardun tells me, most of the second-phase leaders are still licking their wounds, living in the intellectual Ozarks, and most former PLPers, I’ve learned, haven’t awakened from the nightmare that, history and our own experience now agree, Stalinism spun from the dynamics of the class struggle. In 1993, Pardun discloses in his memoir, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Several SDS figures have already died of natural causes, and though a few of us will live a long time, our generation is now facing the fact that it, too, must pass. Pardun’s memoir, and my own, about the civil rights movement in Alabama, are the byproducts of that sense of mortality. For us, all that remains to be seen is whether these books are a goodbye, or the announcement of an encore. Dick Reavis is the author of IfWhite Kids Die: Memories of a Civil Rights . Volunteer \(University of North Texas 9/14/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29 V-1