“You too can have all this”

From Younger Than That Now, an interlocking couple of memoirs.  A significant but not overwhelming part concerns Ruth Williams’s nine month membership in the Caucus of Labor Committees.  Spliced more than I probably am allowed to post, some excerpts.  Part 1:  Joining up.  Part 2:  Proud full-fledged member.  Part 3:  Quitting.

Part 1:

“Stop thinking about your mother,” someone yelled.  “You don’t need mother’s magic.”  The thin, bearded man writhing on the floor nodded his head and struggled to breath.  His face was becoming blue.  In 1974, mmany people thought asthma was pshycosomatic, and I figured this man was
trying to overcome a neurosis, though it seemed an extreme cure.  But I became really alarmed when he began to lose conciousness.

A plump, blond woman was telling me that she was on her way to MIT, armed with several awards and grants for her unique mathematical theories and also with her fanatic devotion to the Labor Committees.  I put my hand on her arm to get her to stop talking.  “He’s going to die,” I protested.  She turned around to look and, almost reluctantly, said, “I’ll call an ambulance.” I was relieved to hear sirens even before she hang up — the hospital was right across the street.

Arlen, a tall, balding intellectual who seemed to be the leader of NLCL’s Madison cadre, knelt on the floor and held the head.  “You know asthma is a mother-induced illness, don’t you?  You know that.  We’ve discussed it.”
The man could no longer nod.  His chest rattled, and I saw bubbles of foam beginning to come from his mouth.  Arlen turned to the rest of us and said, “He’ll be fine.  Really.  He’s been doing a lot better lately, and it’s just going to take some time before he becomes a fully realized human being.  It’s hard work.”  The group nodded sympathetically.  Then three paramedics burst into the room and began to revive the man.  After a hypodermic and some oxygen, he was breathing again.  “I’m sorry,” he mumbled as he was carried to the ambulance.

I turned a horrified face to the MIT woman.  “What was that all about?”
“He’ll be fine,” she consoled me.  “It’s been a long time since he needed medical care.  It’s just a little setback.  Eventually he won’t have asthma anymore.”  She looked totally convinced of what she’d just said.  Evidentally NCLC members believed they could fight disease and human frailty as well as change the face of American politics, and they were already practicing psychology on their membership.  Why had the  well-educated, highly intelligent woman joined what I had thought was an insignificant fringe organization?  Was there more to it than I saw?

I let her put my arm around my waist as we walked to some chairs in the back of the room.  She knelt on the floor beside me and said, “You really love your husband, don’t you?”
“I loved mine too.  But sometimes real human beings have to make hard choices.  I had to divorce my husband.”
“He wouldn’t join the Labor Committees.  Even after he heard Lyndon LaRouche speak in New York last spring — wait until you hear him, he’s a genius — he wouldn’t let go of his fears.  I had to move on.”
“Like Bill will, you mean?  If I don’t join?”
She crooked an eyebrow, a knowing “what else could he do?” look.  Then she said, “But that’s not what has to happen.   You can both be in the vanguard of a new American Renaissance.”
We seemed to be making quantum leaps, from this bare, basement meeting room to a renaissance.  From divorce to a vanguard.  My head was spinning.  She went on, “There’s one thing stopping you from joining him.”
“What’s that?”
“You have to forget mother’s homemade magic.  Forget Reverend Jorgenson.  Forget –”
“Hey, how do you know about him?”
“Bill and I had a long talk yesterday. 


Part 2:


Dear Jeff,
Much has changed since your visit and I hesitate to unfold it within the limited scope of a letter but it must be attempted if we hope to continue to communicate.  There are innumerable reasons to recoil in dismay from reality.  However, Bill and I have ruthlessly confronted those reasons and found them less than human, if not totally insane.  Throughout  our lives, Jeff, we have been surrounded with fantasy — TV, mother’s homeside magic, Vietnam and its deluded antiwar “revolutionaries”, the  myth of success, etc. — and we have responded with neurotic insanity, feverishly constructing more fantasy, performing propitiatory rituals to dead pasts.  Now the fantasies are melting away.

This letter is VERITABLY IMPOSSIBLE for me to write, so big is the gulf between yourself (who can write impassively of Rockefeller and William F Buckley) and myself (who is pouring my intellect, creativity, time, energy, probably my life’s blood into the battle for humanity against the bestialized filth of those men and their following).  Have you read about TRIAGE as suggested by Rocky’s Trilateral Commission?  If so, how can you possibly tolerate it and call yourself human?  Einstein,
Feuerbach, Marx, Luxemburg, Hegel, Oparin, Vernadsky — in essence break out of the controlled environment spawned by “higer education” and begin your education anew.  Bill and I have embarked on the excruciating task of finding the real
world and we are tempted to backslide daily, but the realization of the discovery of self-concious mentation of the type experienced by Descartes, “I think therefore I am”, and the responsibility it carries of negentropic growth constantly compels us to tear out the demons of our education.  Ie, we are confronting the “giggling, nervous infants of bourgeois fear” which grip and strangle the minds of most of our acquaintances, our families, our friends — and we arebecoming members of a new species, equipped to make the conceptual leap which is absolutely necessary if the human race is to survive an impending ecological holocaust.
Political, economic, psychological, personal, moral, scientific,
artistic levels — all the pursuits of mankind — must be conceptually raised to the next level of human progress.  We are in the process of an intellectual renaissance, Jff, and it is very real.  I would be less than equal in the demands of a truly creative friendship if I didn’t joyfully bring it within the grasp of your mind.  I’ve enclosed several clippings which I hope you will read.  They’re from NEW SOLIDARITY — you know, the paper you used to laugh at?  We are planning to leave Madison and will be organizing full-time with the Labor Committees in Milwaukee and Chicago.  I quit my job in November and have since been making intellectual leaps necessary to maintain the integrity of my decision to be a world historical being rather than Ruth Tuttle of Yazoo City.  I am beginning to locate myself by my mental coordinates rather than geographically.  Whithin me exists not onlly the experiences of 23 years, but also an intensifying sensuous grasp of the geometry of the universe and the laws and forms I am capable of imposing on it.  Of all my friends, you are the one I know best intellectually.  We have shared our minds much more than our experiences and for this reason, I am convinced that you have the intellectual integrity to grapple with your bourgeois persona and fear and to discover your humanity, your pride.  This will be very straining to our relationship because it calls for an honesty not accepted in polite society and is certainly far removed from the magnanimous apathy of the counterculture many of our peers have opted for.

So, there you have an infinitesimal glance into the burgeoning currents of my life.  Jeff, I feel like every human being can potentially feel.  I feel like God.  


Part 3:

I told my version of the incident to the man on the phone, adding, “at the hospital the police told me the woman is known in the neighborhood as mentally ill.  She’s always hallucinating about the devil, and today she was tripping her brains out, too.  They were trying to contact a family member to get her committed.”
“And you believed that?”
“Well yeah,” I said.  “You don’t?”
“Look at the facts:  The working class is being systematically destroyed by Rocky’s Trilateral Commission.  There’s a psychological holocaust going on out there.  This is the direct result of Nelson Rockefeller’s interference in our daily organizing.  If you do your job better, the workers won’t be destroyed like this.”
“So it’s my fault?”
“Let’s go over this story again, only this time I want you to tell me more about what Rodney was doing.”
About ten people were gathered in the next room.  Some of them were talking.  Others sat quietly, slumped in their chairs.  What I saw when I looked through the kitchen door was a group of demoralized, drifting  souls.  We had become dumb animals with gaunt faces and dark-rimmed eyes, members of the same soul starved family.  There was only one person who seemed to be untouched by Labor Committee angst, a genial black youth named Teddy.
I caught his eye and he came into the kitchen.  While I talked on the phone, he stood behind me and rubbed my shoulders.  I think he knew what I meant when I hung up the phone and said, “I’m going home now.”
“Yep, I’m about done with this scene, too,” he replied.  […]

I was assigned to bring him along.  I would meet him at AO Smith during the morning shift change and hand him some copies of New Solidarity.  Within 20 minutes all his buddies would buy us out, the younger ones ribbing Teddy about his “white piece,” the older ones delivering advice with their twenty-five cents: “Boy, you bes’ be lookin’ after yo’ mamma, ‘stead of hustlin’ this garbage.”  Almost without exception they’d then toss the paper into the trash can next to the ramp.  Teddy and I just laughed it off.  The rest of the afternoon we’d hang out in a coffee shop, laughing — and sometimes crying — as we shared life stories.

One Response to ““You too can have all this””

  1. revenire Says:

    Where do you come up with this stuff? It’s too wild to be true. It reads like some bad novel. Really — I am quite interested in all these anecdotes. You get a lot of mileage out of LaRouche and more power to you but these stories are top!

    Are you Justin? I am confused, lol — now, Rachel don’t run with that too far. It’s all the LSD Lyn puts in the gruel.

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