Max Elbaum a former memberof Students for a Democratic Society, was active in the new communist movement in the 1970s and 1980s and was the managing editor of CrossRoads magazine in the 1990s. He is the author of Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao, and Che (2002).
Max Elabaum became radicalized in the mid 1960sand was active in Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin, before moving to San Francisco.
- By 1965-66 when was 18-19, I considered myself some kind of radical, in 1967 I went to my first meeting of Students for a Democratic Society, in spring 1968, shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, I decided that working for revolution would be my life's central thread.
- From then through the mid-1970s, in Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin and then San Francisco, I was involved in antiwar organizing, a hospital worker unionization campaign, radical educational work, all within the general milieu of activists who were inspired mainly by that era's "two, three, many Vietnams."
According to Elbaum;
- Thousands from my generation were drawn to the versions of Leninism then espoused by the Communist Parties in China, Cuba, Vietnam and other Third World countries because they foregrounded the struggles that were animating our passion for revolutionary change. They put opposition to racism and imperialist war at the center of analysis. They riveted attention on the intersection of economic exploitation and racial oppression, pointing us toward building a base in the most disadvantaged sections of the working class. They promised a break with Eurocentric models of social change and offered a framework for building a multiracial movement and breaking down segregation within the left.
- Leninism seemed to offer a mechanism to build grassroots-based, participatory organizations, with accountable leadership and able to resist state repression and infiltration. In the 60s many of us had become frustrated with chaotic organizations which ended up being led by media-selected or self-appointed individuals, mostly from privileged backgrounds, not accountable to the rank and file and not able to deal with sophisticated police infiltration. And Leninism inspired us to study history and political economy, to push ourselves to take broad responsibility for all dimensions of the class struggle, to set our sights on influencing millions and not be satisfied with self-marginalization in a small corner of the society.
Line of March/CrossRoads
In 1976 Elbaum was a founder of a one of the "second wave" new communist groups, the Line of March - (referred to by rivals as "March in Line").
The Line of March theoretical journal was simply named - Line of March:A journal of Marxist-Leninist Theory and Politics. It was published by the Institute for Social and Economic Studies, PO Box 2809, Oakland California.
Line of March disbanded in 1989 after a collective, two-year self-critique of vanguardism and ultra-leftism.
Line of March's remaining resources were used to help start CrossRoads, a magazine of left dialogue. Elbaum was managing editor of CrossRoads from 1990 until 1995, when he resigned to start working on his book Revolution in the Air.
The magazine folded around 1996.
Institute for Social and Economic Studies/CrossRoads
In the mid 1990s Elbaum servedon the Board of Directors of Oakland based Institute for Social and Economic Studies- sponsor of CrossRoads... which sought to promote dialogue and building new alliances among progressives and leftists... and to bring diverse Marxist and socialist traditions to bear while exploring new strategies and directions for the progressive political movements.
Committees of Correspondence
In 1992, Max Elbaum endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.
Elbaum joined the Committees of Correspondence and was still active at the organization's formal founding in chicago in 1994.
- The Founding Convention of the Committees of Correspondence successfully concluded a two-year process of constructing a new socialist organisation. It also signalled the end of a longer period during which organisational upheavals and “left regroupment” initiatives were a central dynamic in the U.S. socialist movement.
- The last decade's roller coaster ride has reshaped the left around the world. One of the most welcome changes is the willingness of once-warring camps to rethink traditional formulas and engage in dialogue.
- Discussion aimed at hammering out a renewed socialist vision and strategy will certainly continue; hopefully it will probe even more deeply. But in the US, momentum toward further organisational realignment has at least temporarily receded. We are now at a certain resting point, as the major groups (the Committees of Correspondence is only one among several) pause to consolidate themselves and stabilise their relationships with one another.
Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s
The Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s was the Committees of Correspondence's first national conference held in Berkeley, California July 17-19, 1992.
Workshops that were held at the conference on Saturday, July 18 included:
Socialist Crisis What is the meaning of the crisis of socialism in the World today? Recent events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and their implications for the left in the West. Looking at China, Vietnam and Korea. The threat to Cuba: How to respond?
- Carl Bloice, former Moscow correspondent, PWW
- David Englestein, Marxist scholar and teacher, SF
- Daniel Rubin, CoC Implementation Committee, NY
- Leon Wofsy, UC Berkeley faculty, retired
- Carol Esteves, Berkeley community activist
- Max Elbaum, managing editor, CrossRoads, SF
- Erwin Marquit, prof., Univ. of Minnesotta, Minneapolis
- Margrit Pittman, journalist, NY
- Yvonne Golden, retired principal, Alamo Park HS, SF
Opposing the "War on Terror"
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 supportersof STORM and the Bay Area Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism established Ad Hoc Committee 'On Poitical Strategy' to fight against Bush's war against terrorism.
The group issued an October 5, 2001 statement to other activists;
- As we immersed ourselves in the fightback to Bush's war against terrorism, we felt the need to get our political bearings as leftists. So we organized a discussion attended by 27 diverse left activists in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sept. 30.
- September 11, and the Bush administration's reaction to it, is a defining historical moment, ushering in a new and dangerous period in international politics. Washington's agenda is to entrench the national security state and a new level of international dominance on the basis of a permanent war on terrorism--bringing the "new world order" to fruition.
- The defining political axis of this new period is Washington's international war on terrorism--and the fight against it...The political and ideological balance of forces, demands, and outcomes of all struggles will be affected by this central issue, to one degree or another.
- Given this, the fight for peace should be the central demand for the people's movements...However, peace is not a centrist, liberal demand, but in fact is central to an anti-imperialist agenda. Its main content is that of staying the hand of imperialist war and fighting U.S. militarism in all its forms.
Socialist Scholars Conference
David McReynolds, Socialist Dialogue, Max Elbaum, CrossRoads, Carl Bloice and Judith Pasternak, Committees of Correspondence and Annette Rubinstein, New York Marxist School were speakers on the Crisis and New Directions of the Organized Left panel sponsored by CrossRoads and Socialist Dialogue at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.
Elbaum also spoke alongside Ellen David-Freidman, Progressive Vermont Alliance; Robert Fitrakis, Columbus Democratic Socialists of America; Irwin Silber, Editorial Board, CrossRoads and James Steele, Breakthrough Political Consulting Services on the The '92 Elections & Left Electoral Strategies panel sponsored by CrossRoads.
Center for Political Education
In 1999 Elbaum, editor of Crossroads Magazine gave two talks entitled "Where’s the Party?" and "Where’s the Party? Part Two" at an educational forum on the history and legacy of Marxist and Leninist Parties. The talks were sponsored by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism linked organization, the Center for Political Education.
In 2001 Elbaum, author of "Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che" gave a talk entitled: "Lessons from the 1960s-70s Anti-War Movement." The classes were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.
In 2001 Elbaum and Cindy Weisner of People Organized to Win Employment Rights and STORM gave talks entitled: "Post 9-11 Analysis and Strategy." The talks were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.
In 2003 Max Elbaum, Signe Waller, author of "Love and Revolution: A political memoir/people’s history of the Greensboro Massacre", and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of "Outlaw Woman, A Memoir of the War Years" gave talks entitled: "Love and Revolution: Three activists/authors discuss lessons from the 1960s-70s." The classes were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.
In 2003 Max Elbaum led a study group entitled: "Left Strategies Study Group". The study focused on a strategy formation for organizers on the left, looking at historical models from the 60’s and thinking about how the work can be informed by lessons learned from the past. The classes were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.
In 2006 Max Elbaum of War Times and Claire Tran of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization gave talks entitled: "The Anti-War Big Push & the New Political Moment", on the challenges and opportunities for the anti-war movement following the November 2006 elections. The talks were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.
- The pilot issue of War Times, a new biweekly newspaper opposing the "war on terrorism," will roll off the press on February 14... Featuring an exclusive interview with Danny Glover and a letter to President Bush from Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, the premier of this bilingual, free publication will be distributed in several dozen cities across the country.
Serving on the War Times Organizing Committee were;
Max Elbaum, former managing editor, CrossRoads magazine
Max Elbaum served as a War Times editor.
Sacramento Marxist School
At the August 2002 18th Young Democratic Socialists Summer Institute and National Convention at the University of Illinois at Chicago, author of the recent Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che, Max Elbaum spoke on anti-war and anti-occupation organizing. Max Elbaum is a member of the War Times Organizing Committee, which puts out the bi-lingual, non-sectarian newspaper War Times every six weeks as a means to inform and organize people (the newspaper is geared towards working class and of color communities)..
Colorado based Beyond Chicanismo ran a Conscious Journey speakers series, mainly featuring veterans of Colorado's Chicano/a movement. But it has also included figures from the Puerto Rican, Black and Chicano/a freedom movements, and Anglo radicals from outside the state including Max Elbaum and Betita Martinez.
Beyond Chicanismo launched a Women of Principle Speaker Series in February 2003. Participants have included Georgia Congress-woman Cynthia McKinney, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and locally based Dr. Mary Lou Salazar, daughter of the former head of Colorado's Communist Party, Robert Trujillo.
Iraq War "teach-in"
1968 The Great Rehearsal was a " Symposium and Week of Events on the Long ‘68 " held at the University of California, Berkeley September 17-25, 2008.
The revolutionary upheaval of 1968 was seen as a 'rehearsal' for the looming revolutionary events of the coming era.
The "National Teach-In on the Iraq War" event was run by a Working Group, consisting of;
- Max Elbaum, War Times
- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Historians Against the War
- Roberto Hernandez, Ethnic Studies, UCB:
- Daphne Taylor-Garcia, Ethnic Studies, UCB; UCSB
- Dalida Maria Benfield, Ethnic Studies, UCB
- Rick Ayers, educator, UCB graduate student:
- Tom Reifer, University of San Diego Associate Fellow of the Transnational Institute: Consolecb@aol.com
- Carole Travis, community organizer
- Steve Tappis, Sixties activist in Chicago
War Times Staff
In 2009 voluntary War Times staffincluded:
Jan Adams, Karolo Aparicio, Mariana Bustamante, Ruth Warner Carrillo, Jung Hee Choi, Max Elbaum, Arnoldo Garcia, Rebecca Gordon, Felicia Gustin, Hany Khalil, Rachel Kahn, Lynn Koh, Gerald Lenoir, Burton Li, Betita Martinez, Samuel Orozco, Ricardo Ortega, Sushawn Robb, Kerry Taylor and Bob Wing.
- ↑ http://osdir.com/ml/politics.leninism.international/2003-06/msg00014.html
- ↑ http://colours.mahost.org/articles/elbaum.html
- ↑ LOM, Vol 1, No 1, May-June 1980
- ↑ LOM, No 20, Winter 1987/88
- ↑ Crossroads March 1996
- ↑ CCDS Background
- ↑ "US left settling in for a long haul" 21 September 1994
- ↑ Conference program
- ↑ Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence Conference: Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the '90s booklet, printed by CoC in NY, Sept. 1992 (Price: $4)
- ↑ http://lists.village.virginia.edu/lists_archive/sixties-l/3631.html
- ↑ SSE Tenth Annual Conference Program, 1992
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Center for Political Education website: Past Classes (1998 - 2007)
- ↑ WAR TIMES January 29, 2002
- ↑ http://www.marxistschool.org/default.aspx?page=allspeakers
- ↑ New Ground 84, September-October, 2002
- ↑ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Building+new+roads+to+liberation:+a+growing+critique+of+Chicana%2Fo+...-a0136254608
- ↑ http://www.greatrehearsal.org/
- ↑ War Times Staff