Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

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Kith and Kin: Britain after empire, 1966

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EYE OF THE STORM
A HISTORY OF THE COLD WAR IN THE BEVAN YEARS

DENIS HEALEY 1976



Part Four

Kith and Kin: Britain after empire, 1966


It would be easy to imagine, given the great significance with which the trouble in Guyana may be viewed in hindsight, that its effect upon the public consciousness back in Britain was immediate. Inevitably, this was not the case. Although news coverage of the Guyanese ‘emergency’ was certainly prominent, with the wreck of the Isabel-Flores and the reaching of a compromise between Jagan and the GPC each making the headlines in June and September, the intervening coverage was less sustained. Over the month of July, news bulletins much occupied by the FIFA World Cup in Yugoslavia, at which reigning SIFCO champions France beat the hosts 2-1 in a memorable final. (The Commonwealth team were defeated in the quarter-finals by eventual bronze-medal winners Brazil, losing to a team that included many players who had won gold in Mexico four years prior.)


France v Yugoslavia.
This is fantastic footage of France's 1966 World Cup qualifying victory over Yugoslavia in October 1965. It's not applicable to the imagined game here, but I include it because frankly it is too good to miss out. The interviews with he team at the start are great pieces of footage, and it's a lovely slice of football 'as was'. To see the goal, skip forward to about 52 mins in.


The big story in August, which historically coincides with the ‘silly season’ of the British press calendar, was the death of King Albert in Canada and the subsequent accession of Queen Elizabeth to the throne. While the British media remained wholly unromantic about the institution of the old monarchy, the new queen was an intriguing figure and sparked a fair amount of comment. Born in the year before the beginning of the General Strike, Elizabeth was evacuated to Newfoundland before her third birthday and grew up during the reign of her unfortunate uncle, the so-called ‘King in Canada’. Although born in Britain, Elizabeth was nevertheless seen as emblematic of the second generation of the Canadian aristocracy: those for whom ‘going back’ was never a possibility worth entertaining, and for whom resentment for the Commonwealth was only ever a background concern. Elizabeth’s father was generally seen as a man who regretted the business of ruling just as much as he regretted the revolution, and the result of these twin regrets had been a pragmatic, markedly reserved style of rule. The ‘Britishness’ of the Canadian monarchy was something that sat awkwardly in Ottawa, and the diffident Albert did little to overcome this. Elizabeth, it was generally thought, would have an easier time convincing the country of her ‘transatlantic’ credentials, and the monarchy certainly benefited from her own personal popularity. Relatively youthful, unquestionably telegenic and speaking with the mid-Atlantic inflection of the new Canadian aristocracy, Elizabeth and her family very much fit a new ideal for royalty. Even in Britain, the public could hardly help their fascination.


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Queen Elizabeth, 1966.
Succeeding her father Albert in the summer of 1966, Elizabeth's accession promised a new era of the Windsor Monarchy.


With all of this going on in the world, it is therefore not impossible to see how ongoing political violence in a country of 600 thousand people would hardly have troubled the wider public imagination. Instead, the day-to-day progression of the Guyanese debacle was confined initially to small sections of the gradually-liberalising press. Since 1963, when Bevan had divested the LUPA of control over the Daily Herald (at that time still boasting a daily circulation of 10 million), the British press had begun the journey along the road to liberalisation. The initial trigger was the breaking-up of the newly-independent Herald, whose gigantic apparatus was divided between regional editorial co-operatives. Thus by 1966 Britain had five main daily newspapers: three tabloids (the Daily Herald, The Tribune and The Mirror) and two broadsheets (The Morning Post and The International). Of these, the Herald, The Tribune and The Morning Post remained ‘loyal’, editorially speaking, to the governing LUPA-PF coalition. Both The Mirror and The International took a more independent stance, frequently reporting from the perspective of the left opposition. The International in particular carved itself a niche, suggested by its name, reporting on foreign news, quickly gaining a reputation for the quality of its global correspondence. It was rewarded for its diligence with the lowest circulation of any of the ‘successors’ to the old Herald, the only of the five to sell under one million copies per day. Although not a direct consequence, it is worth highlighting the fact that The International provided by far the most detailed coverage of the situation in Guyana of any of the major British newspapers.

The right opposition had to wait until 1966 before they could point to national papers of their own. Unable to rely upon the Daily Herald inheritance, their emerging media appeared from the ground up. The pioneer in this regard was the New Spectator, a weekly political and cultural journal established in 1964 by a group led by the social democrat Ian Gilmour. In many ways the original locus of social democracy in the Commonwealth, the Spectator attained a respectable circulation of 40 thousand per week by the end of its first year. When Gilmour handed over editorship of the magazine to Iain Macleod in 1966, the magazine began to find its feet – and after, its audience. Macleod was a specialist in foreign affairs, particularly as related to the former empire, and he was keenly interested in the world crises of 1964–66. Initially confining the Spectator to comment on the American intervention in Vietnam, a ‘safe’ topic for the immediate post-censorship world, he expanded the magazine’s focus to take in the Malaysian confrontation as the conflict in South East Asia escalated.



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Iain Macleod outside the premises of the New Spectator, 1966.


In spite of its oppositional stance, the Spectator’s issue with the Bevanite foreign policy was not its insistence on 'divestment'. Macleod was wholly unsentimental about British imperialism, and if anything welcomed a reduction of Britain’s global commitments as being sound economics. The result of this ambivalence was the formulation of a critique which the Bevan ministry has still been unable to shake off in the historic imagination, which is one of indecisiveness. Bevan, the pages of the Spectator argument, was hamstrung by his prosecution of diplomacy along ‘moral' grounds, not because an ‘immoral’ policy would have been preferable, but, bluntly, because it encouraged neither consistent nor clear thinking. Between 1961–63, Britain raced to grant autonomy to all of its remaining dependent states, giving little thought to what would follow other than an ill-defined commitment to ‘co-operation’. After 1963, Britain realised that decolonisation was by no means so cut and dry, and as the growing calls to resist American expansionism supplanted autonomy as the primary moral imperative, the government was forced to perform a partial turn away from its earlier policy. This proved successful in Malaysia, but Bevan’s ministers now had to confront the matter of what its promised ‘co-operative’ policy would entail elsewhere. Was it simply economic, or was it a firmer alliance? Memorably, Macleod attacked the idea of ‘co-operation’ at the height of Malaysian confrontation by writing: ‘I believe the sort of co-operation that Mr Boothby imagines is the sort that one usually sees between rider and horse.’ He feared that Britain planned to impose its assistance upon the former colonies in much the same way that it had lately imposed its presence upon them, and advocated instead for the ‘free association’ of sovereign states. By no means was he opposed to links between Britain and its former possessions, so long as the impetus for a continued relationship did not come from inside Britain itself.

On this basis, Macleod opposed intervention in Malaysia as aiming ultimately towards an outcome (Malaysian affiliation with Britain) whose popular currency was dubious at best. He backed up this ‘populist’ argument (populist albeit from the point of view of the Malaysians) by adding that Britain could hardly afford to prop up an entire global bloc by force of arms. After all, this had been the logic behind divestment in the first place. To return to a position of de facto imperial hegemony made neither practical sense nor ‘moral’ sense, and by this measure it had to be opposed. The implication, of course, is that in the absence of a British response Macleod must have encouraged the ‘Americanisation’ of the postcolonial world. This was not at all the case; Macleod was certainly capable of attacking Americans and British simultaneously, and he opposed the attempts of both London and Washington to secure for themselves ‘new’ imperial domains. In effect, Macleod was sceptical of the necessity of fighting the Cold War at all, holding that the machinations of the warring superpowers prevented newly autonomous nations from exercising true (economic) independence. Undoubtedly, this was a novel way of conceptualising British foreign policy at the height of the Cold War. In large part thanks to it, the Spectator catapulted to national notoriety in 1966, and by the end of the year its circulation had virtually doubled from 1964, selling 75 thousand copies per week.



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Enoch Powell, 1966.


If Macleod was the acerbic choirmaster of the dissenters at the New Spectator, his foil was a far more impassioned, divisive voice. Today, Enoch Powell is remembered as a figure of such considerable controversy that it is scarcely believable to think that as late as 1966 he was practically unknown. Powell was a brilliant classics professor from Birmingham who, like Macleod, took great interest in foreign policy. When Macleod took over the editorship, he doubled the size of the foreign affairs desk and hired Powell as its editor. Macleod was impressed by Powell’s industry and his intelligence, and despite contrasting personalities (Macleod the playboy, Powell the ascetic) the two men became good friends, bonding among other things over a shared love of literature. Powell also shared Macleod’s unsentimental attitude towards the former empire, and in fact took it further towards a palpable antipathy. As a young man, Powell had, rather eccentrically, set his sights on becoming the viceroy of India. When the United Kingdom was overthrown by revolution in 1929, any hope of Britain holding onto India vanished, and in 1934 the All-Indian Commonwealth duly received its independence. He came to terms with this breakneck change in policy by doubling down into logical absolutism, reasoning that if India was lost then the whole Empire should go. In this way he came to oppose Mosleyite developmentalism wholesale, and in the late 1950s he even found himself in an unlikely alliance with the campaign for Kenyan autonomy. Characteristically, Powell once took the opportunity to speak out against British treatment of interned KLFA fighters while delivering a lecture on Demosthenes.


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KLFA fighters, 1950s.
Powell was an unlikely supporter of the KLFA in their struggle against Mosley and the Kenyatta regime (1950–56; 1962–63), finding sympathy with their opposition to the continued British presence in Kenya after autonomy.


As the Spectator’s foreign affairs editor, Powell was equally fond of dropping classical references into his own philippics, and in this way he cultivated his appeal as something of an eccentric dissident character. But this singular figure was animated by a firm political programme, which grew in confidence and continued to calcify as the 1960s progressed. On June 3 1966, Powell gave what was at that time perhaps the clearest indication of his philosophy to date in an article marking the end of the British intervention in Malaysia. In the article, published under the title ‘The Long Way Back From Malacca’, Powell attacked as unrealistic the idea that Britain could sustain itself as a ‘policing’ world power. He argued that Western intervention into non-Western conflicts was counterproductive, preventing the establishment of a settled ‘postcolonial’ order whereby new nations would be able to protect their own interests:

However much we may do to safeguard and reassure the new independent countries in Asia, the eventual limits of American and Chinese advance in those directions will be fixed by a balance of forces which will itself be Asiatic. The two empires are already in a state of mutual antagonism; but every advance or threat of advance by one or the other calls into existence countervailing forces, sometimes nationalist in character, sometimes expansionist, which will ultimately check it. We have to reckon with the harsh fact that the attainment of this eventual equilibrium of forces may at some point be delayed rather than hastened by Western military presence.

At work in this argument were two things which deeply influenced Powell’s thinking on foreign policy during the middle of the decade. The first was a deep distrust of the United States, which stemmed from Powell’s career as an officer during the Pacific War. Although Britain and the United States had fought together against the Japanese, Powell became aware through contact with his American counterparts that they viewed the war against Japan only as the first step towards securing control of Asia for themselves. By the time of the war Powell was already antipathetic towards the survival of the empire, but this antipathy by no means extended towards a favourable view of American ambitions. Powell’s belief might be summed up crudely as: ‘If we can’t have it, no one can’, and he viewed with great suspicion the formation of an American ‘empire’ during the mid-century. Over the summer of 1966, he wrote frequently and vituperatively against American ‘imperialism’, in one piece recalling a 1943 article by American conservative diplomat Clare Luce Booth, who claimed that the removal of the British from Asia would be ‘the greatest victory in the war for democracy’. Powell was profoundly mistrusting of this American ‘democracy’, mocking the self-righteousness of the American belief that theirs was, in his words, ‘a unique society … where God has put together all nationalities, races and interests of the globe for one purpose—to show the rest of the world how to live.’ This pre-occupation with race was not coincidental. While Powell was opposed to American exceptionalism, he was not immune to indulging his own form of British exceptionalism, which pervaded his thinking on foreign affairs. Doubtlessly the strongest example of this in Powell’s writing for the Spectator was in his coverage of the situation in Guyana.


1966 POWELL WW2.jpg

Powell as an officer during the Pacific War.
It was while serving in Burma that Powell had first developed his strident anti-Americanism, judging that the true ambition of the United States in fighting the war was to weaken the British position in Asia, ready to occupy the region themselves.


Powell had opposed British intervention in Malaysia for the same reasons as Iain Macleod, believing it to be unproven that the Malaysians wished to continue to be associated with the London government. Consistent with his belief that Western intervention only weakened the ability of non-Western nations to take care of themselves, Powell attacked the deployment of British troops to Borneo as damaging and unjustified. By contrast, in the Guyanese support of Cheddi Jagan, Powell saw a genuine expression of Guyanese desire to remain close to Britain. The vigour of the American opposition to the Jagan government only convinced him of the validity of this conclusion, and he diagnosed the racial tensions in Guyana as the product of American interference – life after the American example of ‘how to live’. (Between 1965–67, racial violence was as much a feature of life in the United States as it was in Guyana or Indonesia.) Believing that these factors justified intervention far more than the Malaysian situation had, at the start of September 1966 Powell went against the Spectator’s usual ambivalent non-interventionism in calling for British forces to be sent to repel American influence in Guyana. It was not a question of control, he argued, but of expediency: the Guyanese, he claimed, wished to uphold their relationship with Britain, but acting alone they had no hope of doing so. Britain was thus compelled to act to preserve Guyana’s ‘orderly independence’.

Macleod was far less enthusiastic, and by no means did he share Powell’s view of British ‘orderliness’, but he remained steadfast in his laissez-faire attitude towards the editorship and happily ran Powell’s writing alongside his own. It was a canny move; Powell’s articles spread in notoriety and he became a national figure. In the week after Powell came out in favour of intervention in Guyana, the Spectator claimed to have received 5 thousand letters in support. This was a tiny minority, but in Powell it had a vocal spokesman. So long as he kept writing, and so long as the government remained inactive, its dissent would not go away.



‘The Great Betrayal’

It is important at this point to remember that the right opposition did not have the monopoly on foreign policy criticism. While the pages of New Spectator bulged weekly with fresh comment on the deteriorating situation in Guyana, and with argument for and against the futility of British intervention, the left opposition were also engaged in discussions of their own. This discussion took place simultaneously in the legislature, in the left media and in the culture, and it was characterised by a number of key distinctions with the opposition being put up by the right. Most strikingly, the left conception of the Guyanese crisis framed it overall as a humanitarian emergency, which was in stark contrast to the more abstract geopolitical arguments advanced by the Spectator. While Powell and Macleod traded deft phrases over the duty of responsibility Britain may or may not have held towards to its former empire, the socialist opinion focused much more on the duty of the British to the Guyanese (or, more basically, 'man’s humanity to man'). This was readily evident as early as June, when the sinking of the Isabel-Flores became a rallying cry for the urgency of the humanitarian efforts to support ‘comrades’ in Guyana. At the start of July, folk singers Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl debuted "The Wreck of the Isabel Flores" at the Partisan Coffee House, a song whose lyrics explicitly related the collision to the struggle on the ground in Guyana. "The Wreck of the Isabel Flores" was swift to find favour with the London folk crowd. (Singer Roy Harper and guitarist Jimmy Page recorded what is perhaps the definitive interpretation in September, which found radio success over the autumn.)


1966 SEEGER AND MACCOLL.jpg

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, 1966
The duo scored a hit with "The Wreck of the Isabel-Flores" when Guyanese affairs were at their worst.


At the same time, the socialist bloc in the Assembly picked up the cause of the Guyanese and kept it high in the minds of the government. The chief spokespeople on foreign affairs after the 1963 election were Anne Bersey, a veteran of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and Ernest Millington, a former teacher who had served as a pilot during the Anti-Fascist Wars. While Millington’s role was to scrutinise the strategic implications of the government’s action (or lack thereof), taking the lead on questions of military intervention, Bersey was concerned above all with human rights. She could be relied upon during foreign policy debates to advocate for those most profoundly affected, and she needled Boothby on his attempts to frame the crisis purely in terms of policing and intervention. Just before the parliamentary summer recess, she won a notable victory over a proposal to send an airlift of food and medical supplies to Guyana, which was approved by the Assembly. Outside of parliament, she was also active in co-ordinating grassroots efforts to support the relief of Guyana, raising money for supplies to be sent across the Atlantic, and organising collection drives for old clothes and tinned food. All of this, however, was only the prelude to what would prove the most fiercely contested battle of the Guyanese Emergency in Britain, which erupted, after a brief period of respite, at the start of autumn.


1966 ANNE BERSEY.jpg

Anne Bersey, left, demonstrating against racial violence in Guyana, August 1966.
First elected in 1963, Bersey was the international affairs spokesperson for the Independent Socialist opposition in the People's Assembly.


Over the course of the summer’s violence, just under 15 thousand Guyanese had been displaced by arson, bombings and other such destruction. Despairing of any peaceful future in Guyana, the majority of these displaced persons – about four fifths – fled abroad over the course of the autumn. About one quarter of those fleeing migrated to the United States, joining family in New York or Chicago. An eighth ended up in Canada, mostly in Toronto, and another eighth stayed in Trinidad and Jamaica, where they had stopped when first leaving Guyana. The other half – 6 thousand people all told – made their way across the Atlantic and into Britain. About three quarters of those who came to Britain were ethnically Indian, either coming to work in new factories or else in the health service. Many settled in the West Midlands, where an Indian community had been established since the 1930s. Others moved to South Yorkshire, and a small group of families ended up elsewhere. While the immigration of the 6 thousand Guyanese was significant statistically, representing a doubling of the mean annual immigration to Britain since 1929, in real terms the number was not so large, and spread out across the country their arrival did not upset existing relations between white and non-white populations. The socialist leadership welcomed the Guyanese to Britain and took up their cause as victims of conflict. The orthodox trade unionist leadership were less effusive, mostly silent on what they saw as an issue of foreign affairs that ‘did not affect’ the labour movement.

This silence over the ‘racial issue’ was, even in the most generous reading, progressive only by half measures. Inevitably, ambiguous statements about the ‘brotherhood of labour’ led to trouble further down the line. At conference in September, newly-elected TUC general secretary Jack Jones insisted that “[t]he trade union movement is concerned with a man or woman as a worker. The colour of a man's skin has no relevance whatever to his work.” Jones was a man of the left whose anti-fascist credentials were impeccable, and his election earlier in the year had given the government cause for concern after five years of chummy union relations with the moderate George Woodcock. But even he emphasised ‘integration’ over opposition to discrimination, and operating with a view towards workers as ‘workers’ tout court, he neglected to consider the specific problems faced by Black and Indian workers newly arrived within the British workforce. The TUC therefore saw no need to develop specific ‘racial’ policies, and race relations were left at the local level. This accorded with Jones’s desire to return British unionism ‘to the shop floor’, hoping to erode the power of floor managers by elevating shop stewards to their level of power in the factory hierarchy. Industrially, this had the potential to be a powerful policy for change – but it was not ideally suited to the new issue of race relations.


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Jack Jones, 1966.


Before long, the TUC’s ‘velvet glove’ policy revealed its shortcomings. In October, the first ‘migrant strike’ took place at a food processing factory in Luton. The previous month, 60 Guyanese workers, all ethically Indian, had taken up positions within the factory upon their arrival in Britain. On the shop floor, they were all put to work in the same part of the labour process, operating within conditions which were, without doubt, less safe and less clean than those enjoyed by their white colleagues. Wishing to increase productivity before the end of the year, the factory management struck a deal with the union representatives to approve the details of any new plan and to work out the conditions under which it would be implemented. In the end, and not by coincidence, all increases in output were confined to that part of the production process undertaken by the migrant workers. This was concluded without any input from the Guyanese themselves, who had to rely upon the representations of a white shop steward. Under the revised plan, the workers would be required to operate one and a half machines each instead of just one. By way of compensation, they would be given a pay rise of 3 per-cent. This was of course a wildly disproportionate offer, and the Guyanese unanimously rejected the new terms when they were explained by their shop steward. Apparently the factory management had not anticipated their refusal, and the following day workers on the afternoon shift were interrupted by line managers who arrived with paint to demarcate the new half-machine divisions. Again, the workers refused to go along with the new plan and promptly downed tools, staging a sit-in that lasted for for the rest of the shift. The machines clogged and production came to a halt, and at the end of the day the Guyanese walked out.

The Luton dispute soon erupted onto the national consciousness as a cause célèbre. For the Bevanite establishment, the episode was deeply embarrassing, highlighting the fragility of its ‘consensual’ industrial policy even before the racial aspect was considered. The political socialist bloc led the charge in coming down against the national leadership and on the side of the migrant strikers, although the degree to which advocates emphasis their ‘migranthood’ was mixed. For those not inclined to think in racial terms, the basic fact of a worker being asked to increase his output by half for a 3 per-cent pay rise was inadmissible, and thus formed enough of a basis for opposition on its own terms. Some were more willing to recognise the racial factor; in the Assembly, socialist industrial spokesmen Lawrence Daly, later a member of the Russell–Camus Tribunal convened to investigate Western war crimes in Asia, harangued the government and the unions over their tolerance of a ‘racialist’ policy. During an hour-long speech that recalled the international character of the struggle against capitalism and fascism, Daly invoked Mikhail Bakunin and Emma Lazarus to describe how personal freedom was only valuable insofar as it has been ‘confirmed by the liberty of all’. He condemned the Luton policy as a return to the ‘divide and conquer tactics’ of capitalism, and called upon Bevan and Jack Jones to intervene on the side of the Guyanese. Similar levels of opposition extended beyond parliament. Small but vocal pro-migrant protests took place in numerous cities in the days after the strikers first downed tools, and across the south west engineering technicians stopped work in sympathy with the migrants, encouraged by regional union organiser Ken Gill. This is not to mention the actions of solidarity undertaken by by the wider immigrant community in Britain, whose political organisation on a level above the local can be traced back to the Luton dispute.



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Members of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers (AEF) and the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association (DATA) strike in the South West in sympathy with the migrant workers in Luton, October 1966.


The result of this somewhat unanticipated furore was a climb-down by the factory management. After five days of action by the Guyanese workers, the authorities reversed their initial decision and committed to find a solution which, so far as was possible, would spread the increased productivity demands across the workforce. Yet despite the undeniable racial flavour of the dispute, the factory management did its best in the resolution to hide any suggestions that the incident had been anything but a ‘straight fight’. There was no mention in the official press release that the striking workers had been migrants to a man, nor was any ink given over to the complete ambivalence of the white workforce towards their fight. The hope seemed to be that, in playing up class relations, the racial element would be forgotten as an aberration, and the authorities could return safely to their previous, informal policy of ‘integration’. In hindsight, this would prove hopelessly naïve.


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Food processing factory interior, 1960s.


Enoch Powell looked on intently as the Luton affair ran its course. He was horrified by the idea that industrial relations could be overturned by a racial dispute, and he believed that the episode proved that his ideas about the troublesome influence of the former colonies on Britain were correct. Powell believed that British society was fundamentally an orderly society, in which happiness was maintained, irrespective of shifting political orthodoxies, by the fact that every citizen knew their place within the wider scheme. For Powell, it was this sense of order that gave the British their ‘independence’ as members of society, hence anything that threatened the social order threatened the independence of the British people by implication. On these grounds, Powell was intensely opposed to the settlement in Luton. He outlined his opposition in a draft of an article that would discuss the ‘importation’ of the Guyanese racial dispute into Britain. Contending that the ‘ordinary British worker’ had been ‘sold out’ by union leaders seeking to ‘placate’ the migrants, Powell claimed that the arriving Guyanese had shown themselves to be a ‘destabilising influence’ on British society, and attacked Bevan’s ‘weak’ foreign policy for having allowed things to reach this point. He took the article to Macleod for review, expecting his editor to respond with characteristic generosity of outlook. Instead, when Macleod saw the proof copy he was horrified. Rejecting his friend’s argument as ‘pure racialism’, Macleod refused to print the article. He compounded his refusal by saying that, if this was what Powell truly believed, then he no longer wished to have anything to do with him.

Powell was stunned. To him, the argument that he was advancing was a simple matter of logic, and to lose both his friendship with Macleod and his position at the Spectator at once was a serious blow. But he was not to be deterred, and in a flash of inspiration he decided to take his message to the source. On Saturday October 15, Powell travelled to Luton to meet with representatives from the factory workforce who had opposed the migrant strike. By this point Powell had a growing national reputation, and his visit to the Luton factory attracted the attention of the local press. In the afternoon, journalists were present when he gave a short speech to the white workers condemning what had taken place in their factory. Describing his view of the threat posed by migrant workers arriving in Britain in large numbers, he made sweeping references to racial violence in Guyana, Malaysia and the United States, before warning that he watched these developments with a great ‘foreboding’. Characteristically, he framed his dread in classical terms, casting himself as the Sibyl in the Aeneid who warned of ‘wars, terrible wars, / and the Tiber foaming with much blood’. Continuing to allow immigration to Britain from the former colonies, he said, would be akin to Britain “heaping up its own funeral pyre”. He concluded the speech by stating that “to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.” There could be no doubt as to who, Powell supposed, was betraying whom.



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Powell speaking, 1966.


The editorial in the following morning’s edition of the Luton Herald & Post proclaimed that Powell’s speech had ‘fizzed like a rocket’, predicting further that ‘whereas all rockets fall to the earth, this one is going to stay up.’ Elsewhere, the reaction was not so effusive. The Morning Post called the Luton speech ‘evil’ and stated that Powell himself had ‘destroyed his credibility’ by making a direct appeal to racial hatred, ‘unprecedented by any public figure since the revolution'. At the last-minute instigation of editor Will Marr, the October 20 issue of the New Partisan Review was given over entirely to issues of race and the post-colonial world, with contributions by Black and Asian writers including Tariq Ali, Stuart Hall and Claudia Jones. Even the New Spectator joined in with the condemnation. Eager to distance his magazine from Powell, lately its most well-known contributor, Iain Macleod published an extensive rebuttal of the speech on October 17. Macleod repeated his denunciation of his former colleague’s ideas as ‘pure racialism’, adding ‘I believe quite simply in the brotherhood of man – men of all races, of all colours, of all creeds.’ While Macleod’s article doubtless helped to keep the credibility of social democracy in Britain afloat during its infancy, it was not universally popular with his own constituency; the October 24 issue of the New Spectator reportedly saw a drop in circulation of 15 per-cent on the previous week.

Beyond the emergent independent presses, Powell’s speech was widely denounced also in the traditional media. Tony Benn caused some controversy when, during the course of his Radio 1 Sunday evening news bulletin, he deviated from his script to label the speech “filthy and obscene racialist propaganda”. The wider issue of race relations formed the subject matter of a special edition of Nationwide, aired on CBC1 on Friday October 21, which investigated reported cases of violence against immigrants in the days after Powell’s appearance in Luton. In something of a developing theme, this programme was no better at staving off controversy than Benn’s impromptu denunciation had been. The Nationwide producers interviewed a man who had heard Powell’s speech in Luton, who said that it had “made me feel proud to be an Englishman.” He also claimed that earlier on in the day Powell had assured the food factory workers that “if this matter was swept under the rug he would lift the rug and do the same again”, before concluding “We are representatives of the working man. We are not racialists.”



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Supporters protest in support of Powell's speech, October 1966.


Within the cabinet, Bevan and his ministers were divided on whether to take action. Bevan himself was in favour of prosecuting Powell on the grounds that he had incited racial hatred, but he faced opposition from colleagues who were wary of turning Powell – a marginal figure, though controversial – into a martyr. Deputy premier David Lewis believed that going after Powell would be the fastest way to crystallise his support base, and was also reluctant to re-open Mosley-era traumas that surrounded criminalising ‘dissent’. Ultimately, enough of the cabinet shared Lewis’s concerns not to take action against Powell himself, but Bevan and his allies were resolved not to be absent on the issue. The chairman addressed the Assembly on October 24, giving a brief but impassioned speech in defence of racial tolerance that, according to Dick Crossman, reminded many in the chamber why they had supported Bevan in the first place through the long years of opposition. “I am not prepared to stand aside”, Bevan said, “and see this country engulfed by the racial conflict which calculating orators or ignorant prejudice can create.”

Nor in the great world confrontation on race and colour, where this country must declare where it stands, am I prepared to be a neutral, whether that confrontation is in Bedfordshire or Borneo. In these issues there can be no neutrals and no escape from decision. For in the world of today, while political isolationism invites danger and economic isolationism invites bankruptcy, moral isolationism invites contempt.

Wrapped within this emphatic language was a commitment to draft legal protections for racial minorities, to be put before the legislature as a matter of urgency. This was Bevan’s home territory, forcefully campaigning against a clearly defined social ill, and he played to his strengths. Improbably, having looped around the world and back again, from Georgetown to Luton, Bevan seemed well set to confront the moment of crisis on the home front. One can only wonder how different things might have been in this case had the old saying not been proven to be true: that misfortune may always be counted upon to travel in packs of three.
 
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A note on today's update

Powell as a character has been introduced before, somewhat tentatively. He appeared in passing in ‘1964: Annus Mirabilis’, and I described him there as someone motivated by an intense dislike of the global creep of American power to espouse a sort of latter-day imperialism. At the time I was unsatisfied with this characterisation, but not having fully resolved Powell’s place in the Commonwealth I let it pass. The reason I was unsatisfied is because Powell was, notoriously, not an imperialist, and like Macleod he was ‘unsentimental’ about the old Empire in a way that few Tories were in the mid-century. This is perhaps counterintuitive considering the (accurate and deserved) reputation that Powell has as a racist, but it is highly significant in dealing with how his racism worked, which was far more ‘exceptionalist’ (one could justfiably also say 'supremacist') than imperialist. The consequences of this for the Echoesverse remain ahead of us, but for now it suffices to say that this ‘new’ version of Powell is canon, and any previous information about Powell no longer applies.

(Incidentally, my new characterisation of Powell is indebted to the work of Robbie Shiliam, which I first encountered via Enoch Powell: Britain's first neoliberal politician w/ Robbie Shilliam.)

Most of the quotes used in this update are real, and as far as possible I’ve kept them as being spoken by their OTL speakers. Benn and Macleod both made strong denunciations of Powell, and Macleod did indeed refuse to talk to his old friend after Rivers of Blood. He made his 'brotherhood of man' comment while colonial secretary. A few things have been changed for obvious alt-historical reasons. OTL, Bevan’s statement was given by Wilson, and the Morning Post denunciation comes from The Times. The pro-Powell worker’s statement is real. OTL, the worker was Harry Pearman, the leader of a group of East End dockers who downed tools in support of Enoch after Rivers of Blood.

All of this feeds in to the finale, which is now upon us. Diligent readers may be able to guess what is coming from the current date, but I will be giving nothing away just yet. The next update will hopefully be out next week, and will take things up to spring 1967. By my reckoning, there will be about eight updates before the end of Vol1. As we know, on past form I am extremely likely to change things around. But we're close, anyway. Stay tuned!
 
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99KingHigh

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As for me, I've just finished up my draft for the next chapter on the American homefront. Bleak times ahead.
 
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As for me, I've just finished up my draft for the next chapter on the American homefront. Bleak times ahead.
I’ve seen the advance copy and he’s not joking about the bleakness. Stiff drink maybe needed for this one, lads.
 
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6Venre3.jpg



Notes on the Hot Summer (1971)

WALTER LIPPMANN

When James Baldwin returned to the United States from France in September 1966, he was greeted by a cacophony of criticisms by the established American press. The outbreak of war in Indonesia and the deteriorating situation in Indochina had sharpened the enmity of the public to the syndicalist republics, and particularly France, which was indulging its revolutionary spasms by a prolific program of anti-American armament in Vietnam and Laos. To live in ‘enemy country’ was enough of a betrayal to patriotic sentiment. Baldwin, in fact, had actually gone much further. While in Paris, he mixed loud condemnations of the war in Vietnam with a political activism that urged the cultivation of a syndicalist front in the United States. In 1965 interview, he noted the peculiar conditions of the American political experience, admitting that “Yankee Doodle-type syndicalism will be a syndicalism very unlike Chinese, French, or Russian socialism...the price of any real syndicalism is the eradication of what we call the race problem...racism is crucial to the system to keep blacks and whites at a division so both were and are a source of cheap labor.” Whether or not such ideas could attain even the smallest minority of domestic support was irrelevant. American liberals knew that the longer the ambitions of the civil rights movement were thwarted by congressional arithmetic, and the longer the abomination of segregation survived, the more receptive both the leadership and the rank-and-file movement would become to radical, if not revolutionary, flirtations. Compounding this fear was the reality that legitimate democratic alternatives had assumed an air of inadequacy. Amid the distractions of the Cuban crisis and the war in Southeast Asia, the political advancement of the Negro people had assumed a decidedly secondary role in Washington’s long list of priorities. Nevertheless, while this matter faced temporary relegation, the old methods of papering over sectarian divides were faltering. In particular, the crawling gradualism of the Kefauver years, previously designed to mitigate such intra-party disputes, was wallowing in its own anachronism. This was a frightening prospect for the political establishment. Embroiled in bloody global conflicts that demanded supreme sacrifice of material, manpower, and morale, the American establishment understood that it could not permit a polarization of the body-politic. At the same time, however, Washington was deadlocked on the only resolution that might relieve it from the Negro question.

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James Baldwin on the Seine a year before his return to the United States.

Both sides of the civil rights debate had drifted decidedly into polarized camps. The Southern South was beginning to believe it had stunted the integrationist movement. The grand old Dixie Democrats had held the liberals to a pyrrhic victory in the 1963 civil rights bill before snapping back to resolute obstinacy. America was drifting amid a seemingly eternal international crisis that consumed the attention and apprehension of the American people. The dearth of empathy was the consequence of conflict. War was upon it as Korea before, and as the great majority of Americans looked upon it with grim resolution, another minority stirred to challenge the follies that stained the republic’s principles. Faced with protests and grave disasters, the very integrity of the nation seemed jeopardized, so the South shrewdly aligned itself with the forces of order. The war-hardened high officials of the Kennedy administration were in no position to refuse allies during the crisis of 1967, when the Franco-Vietnamese army assumed the initiative against Diem’s crippled regime. The closing of party-political ranks thus prompted the effective closing of the civil rights issue. Stephen Edward Smith, the demoralized campaign manager of the Kennedy family, quietly confessed that “it would be far worse to lose the hardhats and the burgherdom than it would be to lose the Negro.” President Kennedy, once the harbinger of a new generation, bubbled with inchoate suspicions that the newest generation had lost the mettle of the men of the Pacific. He preferred to carry on with the grizzled determination of wartime necessity. To this end, he employed his great spokesmen to carry the domestic front without compromise to the dissenters. Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington, one of the most fervent supporters of the Kennedy administration, became the unofficial spokesperson of the regime. While railing against racial injustice, Senator Jackson admitted the need for national unity before embarking on any moral crusade on the home front. They reasoned that the very existence of the liberal era, nearly forty years standing, required such sacrifice.

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Pro-segregation activists in Louisiana protest school integration.

In fact, James Baldwin did not arrive to crowds outraged by his supposed treachery. Instead, he was received in New York with plaudits and cheers by the Negro community. His arrival was the catalyst for a decisive shift in the movement’s landscape. James Farmer, the leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), was ejected from the organization in favor of the black power socialist, Floyd McKissick, with the tacit support of the civil rights grandee, A. Philip Randolph. Roy Wilkins, the executive director of the NAACP, was forced to fend off competing challenges from the Left, sponsored by the director of branches, Ella Baker. John Lewis, Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), submitted to a quiet resignation by the radicals under Stokely Carmichael. Within days the SNCC was not only agitating for radical action in the civil rights fight, but also for an immediate end to the war in Southeast Asia. CORE and SNCC soon suspended white organizers, “not to say that whites have not had an important role in the Movement...but mainly because if Black people are not allowed to organize themselves then our ideas about collective inferiority will only be reinforced.” All of these developments were to the benefit of America’s most recognizable Negro leader, Malcolm X, and his growing Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Prompted by the emergence of syndicalist-aligned states in Africa, Malcolm X had bolted from the controversial Nation of Islam in 1963 to apply a new method of activism against racial oppression. He preached African American control over the entire institutional organism of the civil rights apparatus (though he shrank from the term), as he advocated for a self-sufficient black power movement that could raise up the population without recourse to "integration" or "emancipation." The organization placed great attention on black education as the means of resolving the legacies of racial injustice and inculcating a pan-African consciousness. He was not alone when he insisted that the “American government commands less legitimate authority over African-Americans than the vanguard of anti-imperialism, the African leadership.” It was towards this interpretation that the movement was bending, and nothing made it clearer than the November 1966 meeting of Baldwin and Malcolm X in Chicago.

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Malcolm X.

The intensity of civil rights activism showed no signs of abating. Partly jolted by the acceleration of the draft, the protest movement escalated in the fall of 1966 and the spring of 1967. Civil rights leaders, nearly unanimously, railed against the war, and not only against its premise. That Negroes were once again being drafted by a country that refused to recognize their essential civil rights induced a powerful metastization of anti-draft and anti-segregation activism. Such a process was accelerated by the prominent role assumed by the student protests, the vigor of which could not be doubted after two young members of the Catholic Worker Movement self-immolated in protest of the war in June 1965. Protesting students were at the frontline of the intersection between war and civil rights; they could not remain idle while a disproportionate amount of the forty thousand drafted into the service every month and twenty-five percent killed in Southeast Asia were black men. They were joined by enlisted men, particularly African-American soldiers, who started Southeast Asian Veterans Against the War and played a highly visible role in the movement. For example, in early 1967, Captain Howard Jefferson, an army doctor, refused to teach Green Berets for they were “murderers of women and children.” Jefferson was court-martialed on the grounds that he was trying to promote disaffection among the enlisted men. This synergy of civil rights and anti-war activism also encountered its own difficulties. Anti-communist liberals were prepared to accept the narratives of order when civil rights demonstrators mixed with proto-syndicalists and radical anti-war protesters. In February 1967, The New York Times and the Washington Post gave cool receptions to mass demonstrations in Atlanta against segregation as TV screens broadcasted signs that read “JFK, lock him away!” and “hey, hey, JFK, how many kids did you kill today?” Even the NAACP, churning rightward, condemned the conspicuous radicalism and violent predilections of the student movement. There were still defectors, such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who quit the administration as Diem’s despotism became conspicuous to the American public. Still, moderate Democrats were reluctant to bend, and a great many white liberals grew irritated by the apparent unpatriotism of their fellow countrymen. Soon afterwards, Baldwin and Noam Chomsky clarified this “new bourgeois foe” when they co-authored a famous article entitled “The Responsibility of the Technocrats,” which railed against the liberal technical experts who were offering pseudoscientific justifications for American policies abroad while stalling on genuine reform at home.

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Anti-war protests outside the Washington Monument (1967).

Southern governors held the reins tightly. With federal sympathy wearing thin for their wartime dissenters, these state governments succeeded in easing the pressure that had been relentlessly applied in the streets for years. When Secretary of Defense McNamara visited Mississippi, he praised Senator John Stennis, a prominent racist, as a “man of very genuine greatness.” White and black students reacted by marching in protest, flaunting placards that declared: “In Memory of the Burned Children of Vietnam, Indonesia and Dixie.” But the resistance could not be held for long. The great civil rights campaign of the Deep South sputtered over police harassment and civilian apathy. Though protests continued to champion the cause of desegregation, the momentum of the movement had shifted northward into the cities of the industrial heartland. These were the forums for the new movement, layered across many social strata, though definitely a minority. Perhaps one might be a Quaker, another a black revolutionary, the third a progressive student; they were not yet the mainstay of middle America, although they might carry their own influence far in local communities and organizations. It was from this kernel that opposition to the Southeast Asian war gathered its strength, even if the cause of civil rights was damned to endure further excruciations. On 12 March 1967, groups across the United States coordinated a widespread anti-war, civil rights protest organized by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Southeast Asia in over 40 cities. Over 1,400 draft cards were burned throughout the day. Volunteers for the Unitarian Church in Boston gave draft registrants the opportunity to send their draft cards to the Selective Service as a conscience act of disobedience. Over two hundred and twenty turned in their cards and another hundred burned them on the spot with an old candle from the local preacher. In San Francisco alone, three hundred draft cards were returned to the government, and a huge demonstration at the Pentagon concluded with the presentation of a sack of collected draft cards to the Justice Department.

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Scenes from the 12 March anti-war, civil rights protest.

No segment of American society was spared from the agitations. Thousands of volunteers in the Peace Corps made their own dissatisfaction indisputable. In Chile, over a hundred members defied their local director and issued a circular denouncing the war. The poet Robert Lowell ignored a White House invitation, as did Arthur Miller, who sent a brief telegram to the President that read “when the guns boom, the arts die.” Eartha Kitt, the eminently talented singer, came to a White House luncheon on the South Lawn and shocked the participants by railing against the war in front of Jackie. One teenager, called to the White House for a prize, castigated the guests for their acquiescence to segregation and the war. At the National Book Award ceremony in New York, sixty authors and publishers mobbed Vice President Symington with acclamations for his reportedly private opposition to the war in Southeast Asia. This was not the most embarrassing incident for the official forces. Middle-class and professional people unaccustomed to activism began to voice their discontent, and in September 1967 the Wall Street Journal announced its opposition to the war. Even the Catholic Church, once the mouthpiece for Diem, became nervous about its involvement. Priests and nuns, aroused by their experiences in the civil rights movements, and others by their missions to Latin America where they had seen injustice under U.S.-backed governments, struck to this new, strange constituency. In October 1967, Father Phillip Berrigan, a veteran of the Pacific War, along with his friends David David Eberhard, James Mengel, and Tom Lewis, went to a Baltimore draft board and drenched the draft records in blood. They were sentenced to five years in prison. The effect of the war was to crack the traditional conservatism of the Catholic community. Later, in 1968, after the disaster on the Rao Quan River, the Newton College of the Sacred Heard in Boston, a sanctuary of bucolic quiet, displayed a massive red fist. At Boston College, a Catholic institution, seven thousand people gathered that same evening in the gymnasium to denounce the war and segregation.

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Father Phillip Berrigan, the pacifist priest and anti-war activist.

The attention afforded to the student protests created the false impression that the opposition to war came from bourgeois intellectuals. When construction workers attacked student demonstrators in New York, the news was played up in the national media. However, a number of elections in American cities indicated that antiwar sentiment was bubbling in the working class. In Dearborn, Michigan, an automobile manufacturing town, a 1967 poll showed that 41 percent of the population favored withdrawal from the Vietnam War. In the same poll, seventy percent demand the end to segregation and the provision of civil rights for the Negro. Another survey by the University of Michigan showed that those with only a grade school education were much more enthusiastic about withdrawal than the college education. In June 1966, twenty seven percent of the college education supported an immediate withdrawal, while 41 percent of the grade school educated were in favor. Two years later, both of those numbers had doubled to reach the same 1966 level of civil rights supporters. All this was part of a general change in the mood of the country. In August 1965, sixty-one percent of the population supported American involvement in Vietnam, and in November 1966, fifty-seven percent supported the war in Indonesia. As before, those numbers were soon to reverse. But perhaps the most damaging statistic was not of growing civilian malcontent but military defection. As the war went on, desertions mounted. Thousands went to Central Europe and Northern Europe—Holland, Sweden, Germany—and some even braved the diplomatic froth for syndicalist Western Europe. Most deserters crossed into Canada with estimates as high as 100,000. Others remained in the United States, openly defying military authorities by taking sanctuary in churches, wherein they patiently awaited capture and court-martial.

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A GI anti-war protest in St. Louis.

The tinderbox of American emotional distress could not be contained for long. On 14 May 1967, North Vietnamese troops, supported by French advisers and air-support, covertly invaded Laos and imperiled the right-wing, neutralist government of Colonel Phoumi. Washington was struck by the amazing progress of the Franco-Vietnamese Army. When Kennedy opted to bomb the invading forces, three B-52s were shot down by the extensive French anti-aircraft accompaniment. Though the mission succeeded in slowing down the advance of the enemy, the imminent collapse of what the administration had long touted as its foremost success in Indochina prompted a fierce backlash at home. At last, the apparent deceitfulness of the American government regarding the progress of the war in Vietnam had allowed it to lose credibility in the eyes of the public.

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Camouflaged French troops assisting Vietnamese forces during the invasion of Laos.

Worse still, it had made no inroads on the issue of civil rights and every indication pointed to an indifference that verged on the negligent. The opposition reacted by embracing the inflammatory. In June 1967, weeks after the police killing of Samuel Hampton, an emotional Malcolm X indulged in a highly controversial speech in which he implored African-Americans to arm themselves. This was the preamble to the great catastrophe on the home front. Though within his rights, Malcolm X had ventured into dangerous territory. Only one week later, he was shot twice in Cleveland by a young Southerner, John Cook. Born to Judge XX, Cook was a furtive member of the curious but enduring American Nazi Party and an avowed segregationist. Perhaps most decisively, he was the son of Eugene Cook, the former Attorney General of Georgia, who had once labelled the fairly moderate NAACP as a “Marxist instrument of dissent and subversion.” Cook had decided that Malcolm X and the OAAU represented an existential threat not only to the preservation of white supremacy, but also to the cause of American anti-communism. On June 24, Cook shot Malcolm X twice with a sniper outside a Cleveland hotel, seriously injuring him. Two OAAU compatriots were not so lucky, and were killed instantly by Cook’s continuous fire. Cook had planned on fleeing the scene, but he was quickly spotted by Malcolm’s armed OAAU colleagues and summarily executed. The grim details of the attempt were soon compounded by the revelation of Cook’s official lineage. Within days, America was in flames.

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Malcolm X with a visible gunshot wound on his upper left shoulder. Shortly after this picture, he was shot again by John Cook and passed out.

The first riot was in Hough, Cleveland. Over the past decade, Hough had been decimated by the double sequence of deindustrialization and white flight. Public services were crippled and black unemployment was shockingly high. A segregated division of police, notorious for its perceived apathy to the black plight as well as its pervasive culture of racism worsened tensions between white and black communities. Any hope for relief was dashed by the city’s crooked political apparatus, dominated by the mayor, racially segregated labor unions, and the few remaining businesses, which tended to support municipal austerity. In the early 1960s, the United Freedom Movement, a broad alliance of civil rights groups, had conducted widespread campaigns against these ailments, but as on the national scale, failed to achieve progress. The painful reminder of the insufficiency of negotiation and legal action incentivized local affiliation with radical groups, including the OAAU. Soon after the assassination attempt, word spread throughout the neighborhood. Within two hours, over four hundred rioters were roaming over a 30-square block area, centered around Hough Avenue. The police responded by a wanton attack of tear gas grenades upon any nearby crowd, precipitating a skirmish that escalated when rioters started hurling Molotov cocktails back at law enforcement and destroyed their vehicles. Police Captain Richard Sherry called the scene “utter bedlam” as police became pinned down by sniper fire, unable to find the gunmen through the darkness. On the first night, sixteen perished in the cavalcade of violence. The following day, Mayor Locher requested support from the National Guard, which Governor James A. Rhodes dispatched to the tune of fifteen hundred soldiers. But by that night only three hundred troops had arrived, and furor at Locher burst out as the riots spread beyond Hough neighborhood.

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Mayor Locher inspects the damage after the first night of rioting.

The conspicuous presence of rooftop snipers on the second night transformed the riot into a bloody skirmish as guardsmen exchanged fire with the armed rioters. Nearly thirty buildings were burned on the first two nights, and another ten perished, prompting Locher to request federal assistance from Symington. But attempts at de escalation faltered when Locher claimed that “outsiders” were the cause of riots, and that black nationalist groups had instigated the violence. Even the Attorney General could not stomach these absurd claims, although Kennedy did agree to declare Hough a federal disaster area. The New York Times offered the small concession that “police appeared to be adding to the problem by being chronic under-achievers in diplomacy. These interventions failed to calm the mood as the Cleveland press pumped headlines declaring the riots a “hate whitey” revolution. For the next four nights, a calamity of supreme proportions unfolded on nationwide televisions as Cleveland police and National Guardsmen fought a grueling street battle to expand their patrol zone. Many civilians were caught in the crossfire of the rioters, or shot by police during the turmoil, bringing the total casualties of the incident to over fifty in one of the bloodiest weeks of civil unrest in American history. ” But they were not to be the last, and as Cleveland finally quieted by early next week, urban violence boiled over in an array of American cities. Riots in the predominantly black neighborhood of Avondale, Cincinnati broke out as Cleveland fizzled back into quiescence. This time it was a new radical officer of CORE, blaming white Americans for the assassination attempt, who urged rioters to retaliate at a large Negro memorial for the murdered OAAU associates. Over a hundred fires were set around the city, resulting in massive damage to storefronts and merchants. The Avondale riots reached their own climax when five white Americans were dragged from their cars near Mount Auburn and stabbed to death on July 1. This incident prompted the redeployment of the National Guard and the imposition of a new curfew, during which another fifteen black Americans were killed by soldiers and police before the restoration of order in the city.

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Avondale engulfed in flames.

Such a story of provocation and destruction repeated throughout the early weeks of July in gory procession. Mass riots in Tampa, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Rochester killed over a hundred Americans in one of the deadliest sequences in American history as the federal government deployed overwhelming force to prevent a repetition of the Ohio chaos. Kennedy did not fail to preemptively employ military authorities, and while this succeeded in preventing large-scale destruction, it also fueled the perception among the disaffected that Washington had little interest in the amelioration of the Negro condition. With tempers at a fiery climax, many municipalities adopted draconian police measures to stave off unrest. Naturally, these measures only fanned the flames of insurrection. On July 23, Detroit Police Department officers raided an underground drinking club on 12th street, expecting to find a few celebrants. Instead, they found over a hundred Negroes welcoming the return of a few local GIs from Vietnam. The police elected to arrest everyone present while a large crowd gathered to watch the proceeding from the street. Someone from the observing crowd threw a bottle at the officers, sparking a mass attack on the arresting officers and freeing the revellers from detention. Within minutes, the crowd had looted a nearby clothing store, and by nightfall full-scale looting commenced in a “carnival atmosphere.” The outnumbered DPD did not make a single arrest until 7:00 AM the next morning, four hours after the raid.

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The riots begin in Detroit.

Mayor Louis Miriani, a favorite of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and an espouser of the “law and order” method, correctly viewed the trouble as frightening prelude to what had unfolded across the country. He sought to snuff out the trouble before it could metastasize by requesting support from the Michigan State Police and declaring a nightly curfew. But he had underestimated the force necessary to quell a large population utterly disillusioned with rampant housing discrimination, low-paying jobs, schambolic schools, police abuse, and indifference from the political establishment. A significant number of poor whites, particularly those pauperized by the slow deindustrialization of the automobile industry, also participated in the riot. Through that Monday, looting and arson became so rampant that one black merchant quipped, “you were going to get looted no matter what color you were.” Representative John Conyers (D) was nearly killed by gunfire when he attempted to talk down rioters with a loudspeaker on the hood of his car. When snipers killed three firefighters of the Detroit Fire Department, the vast majority of white firemen elected to refuse calls from black-majority neighborhoods. Indeed, it was the uncontrolled fires that accounted for the vast majority of fatalities during the riot due to structural collapse and asphyxiation. The deadliest incident occurred in the newly constructed Gratiot Redevelopment Projects—thus far unaffected by the riots—when an unrelated fire in an adjacent office scorched through the area. Most of the three thousand residents were at home, sleeping, as the inferno encroached without opposition by the frightened fire department. In the course of two hours, over two hundred people burned to death with scores more maimed in the deadliest evening of the Hot Summer. Rather than blanket the city in grief, the Gratiot Disaster prompted another furious day of rioting. Burned bodies could not be returned during the chaos, and many putrid corpses were left on the street to rot. James Baldwin aptly termed the evening, “the night Detroit died.” The police and Guardsmen, meanwhile, responded to the persistent fear of sniper fire with preemptive acts of violence. In one infamous incident, an occupant of an apartment building on 12th and Euclid lit up a cigarette near the window while sporadic sniper fire rang out across the street. Guardsmen opened fire on the apartment with rifles and a .50 caliber machine gun of their supporting tank. Among the seven fatalities was four-year old Tanya Blanding.

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Tanks stroll down Detroit streets.


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The destroyed Gratiot Projects with residual concrete frames at forefront and black-owned single-family homes directly behind them.


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DPD officers round up riot suspects.



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A black-owned business shows the "Soul Brother" sign, indicating Negro ownership of the store in an attempt to keep looters away. This sign was common during the Hot Summer but frequently failed to protect businesses.



The siege of Detroit was not contained until it became clear to Miriani that state authorities could not control the situation. The White House, which had hesitated to employ troops over a dispute with Governor George Romney, decided to send the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Division, then stationed at nearby Selfridge Air Force Base. These better trained, integrated paratroopers succeeded in quelling the uprising, in no small part by their ability to communicate with the local residents, who distrusted the predominantly white and suburban Guardsmen. Within two days, the paratroopers had succeeded in suppressing the deadliest uprising since the Civil War, but the affair had scarred the nation. Over thirty-five thousand people were estimated to have participated in the uprising, which concluded with over four hundred fatalities, predominantly from the inferno that continued to rage through the city for three further days before firefighters were able to reach the affected neighborhoods without fear for their safety. The destruction was of such a magnitude that violent riots in Newark fizzled out as citizens trembled before their television sets to watch the great industrial city of Middle America turn to cinder. Fatigue and disbelief settled over the public.

nHCcbBd.png

It was no easy task to imagine an amicable restoration of civil relations. Increasingly sedated for his worsening osteoporosis, the President sank into personal resignation, reportedly spending more and more time with his mistress, Marilyn Monroe. The shine of Camelot had become a stain. One leak suggested that his only comfort was reading overly optimistic reports from the Pentagon on the war’s progress. His opponents did not share in his despondency. Upon his recovery, Malcolm X praised the rioters for “sending an unignorable message to the masters.” George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama, announced his candidacy after an August meeting with prominent white supremacists and anti-Semites, including Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi. The New York Times editorial warned “we are awash with the odor of national rot.” The conservative magazine National Review declared “the Democrats have abdicated their right to govern this country...they have invited calamity after calamity...the country is in urgent need of new leadership.” Even the artistic class seemed divided. At the Tom Paine Prize ceremony in New York that December, James Baldwin harshly castigated prize-winner Bob Dylan for opening his half-inebriated speech with “I identify with John Cook.” [1] If the political violence had paused, the milieu of sharp polarization had only accelerated. Exhaustion, it seemed, was no resolution to the maladies of America.

Yg5EStY.jpg

Bob Dylan attempts to explain himself at the Tom Paine dinner.

[1] This should not be taken literally. It was very similar to John Lennon's "We are all Christ and Hitler."
 
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Oo boy, time for some proper counter culture 70s in amercia, with flowers and handgrenades.

Seems the sharp poltical divide seems to be ramping up too. Poor whites and non whites on one side, and the white middle and upper classes on the other. Who's going to win?
 
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Irrespective of the fact that I know broadly where we end up, I am struck by the fact that none of this unrest is the sort of thing you can just reform away. The US seems nigh-on pre-revolutionary at this point, so the lasting impact into the 70s is going to be something I’ll be interested to see. My suspicion is that the state is about to get horrifically violent.
 
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Ok New Left, this is your time to shine. Don't flame out as pitifully as you did in OTL. I think part of what would make this a little likelier is the fact that poor Northern whites have to some extent united with nonwhites and young activists, which could be very significant. I see, well. like Densley said, lots of violence down the pike, but, perhaps, something a little better on the other end. That said, Wallace popping up at this point is sort of a Chekhov's gun, in its way, and, well, things could get Kaiserreichy just as plausibly as they could improve. Either way, I suspect there will be a lot of movies and books written about the next five years or so. And songs.
 
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Ok New Left, this is your time to shine. Don't flame out as pitifully as you did in OTL. I think part of what would make this a little likelier is the fact that poor Northern whites have to some extent united with nonwhites and young activists, which could be very significant. I see, well. like Densley said, lots of violence down the pike, but, perhaps, something a little better on the other end. That said, Wallace popping up at this point is sort of a Chekhov's gun, in its way, and, well, things could get Kaiserreichy just as plausibly as they could improve. Either way, I suspect there will be a lot of movies and books written about the next five years or so. And songs.
we’ll take a look in a bit at the changing partisan politics (in fact, near the finale), and how it diverges from OTL. Hopefully it’ll show how Wallace is not just a Chekhov’s gun. I considered excluding him from running given the lack of progress on civil rights, but you'll see in due course why I thought it was a good touch to include him
 
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Ok New Left, this is your time to shine. Don't flame out as pitifully as you did in OTL. I think part of what would make this a little likelier is the fact that poor Northern whites have to some extent united with nonwhites and young activists, which could be very significant.
I think if there is any cause for optimism, it is that the New Left (globally, anyway) haven’t abandoned the industrial/economic ‘base’ so the move into the culture is more of a complement than a total shift away from ‘orthodox’ class politics. IMO this is where we properly start to see what effect it’s had having a Western European syndicalist bloc for the last thirty years – ie how the ‘children of the revolution’ have been shaped in their ideas of what is possible, and what, materially, they can do about it.

Anyway, to add to the music:

 
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So, my uncle was a fireman back in the day from Dearborn, Michigan, and told a story that during the riots he was the only fireman near his ladder truck, and he had kept an axe nearby, just in case. He wasn't bothered throughout the night, and thought himself lucky, until someone called out behind him. My uncle said he turned around and saw an elderly Black man sitting on a rocking chair on his porch with a shotgun next to him, who responded that he was, "watching over the nice white boy helping put out the fires, making sure no one messed with him."

Also, just a nitpick, because you didn't do it anywhere else: you mention with Cook that he uses a "sniper" and left off "rifle." This is of course a habit that's crept into normal conversation and drives me nuts. Sniper is a person or a job, but shouldn't be used alone if describing the pattern of rifle.

Interesting that Malcolm X survives longer in TTL, what happened to King again? I'd imagine that this is going to be a far bloodier era than what happened.
 
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Irrespective of the fact that I know broadly where we end up, I am struck by the fact that none of this unrest is the sort of thing you can just reform away. The US seems nigh-on pre-revolutionary at this point, so the lasting impact into the 70s is going to be something I’ll be interested to see. My suspicion is that the state is about to get horrifically violent.

Ok New Left, this is your time to shine. Don't flame out as pitifully as you did in OTL. I think part of what would make this a little likelier is the fact that poor Northern whites have to some extent united with nonwhites and young activists, which could be very significant. I see, well. like Densley said, lots of violence down the pike, but, perhaps, something a little better on the other end. That said, Wallace popping up at this point is sort of a Chekhov's gun, in its way, and, well, things could get Kaiserreichy just as plausibly as they could improve. Either way, I suspect there will be a lot of movies and books written about the next five years or so. And songs.

we’ll take a look in a bit at the changing partisan politics (in fact, near the finale), and how it diverges from OTL. Hopefully it’ll show how Wallace is not just a Chekhov’s gun. I considered excluding him from running given the lack of progress on civil rights, but you'll see in due course why I thought it was a good touch to include him

I think if there is any cause for optimism, it is that the New Left (globally, anyway) haven’t abandoned the industrial/economic ‘base’ so the move into the culture is more of a complement than a total shift away from ‘orthodox’ class politics. IMO this is where we properly start to see what effect it’s had having a Western European syndicalist bloc for the last thirty years – ie how the ‘children of the revolution’ have been shaped in their ideas of what is possible, and what, materially, they can do about it.

Anyway, to add to the music:


So, my uncle was a fireman back in the day from Dearborn, Michigan, and told a story that during the riots he was the only fireman near his ladder truck, and he had kept an axe nearby, just in case. He wasn't bothered throughout the night, and thought himself lucky, until someone called out behind him. My uncle said he turned around and saw an elderly Black man sitting on a rocking chair on his porch with a shotgun next to him, who responded that he was, "watching over the nice white boy helping put out the fires, making sure no one messed with him."

Also, just a nitpick, because you didn't do it anywhere else: you mention with Cook that he uses a "sniper" and left off "rifle." This is of course a habit that's crept into normal conversation and drives me nuts. Sniper is a person or a job, but shouldn't be used alone if describing the pattern of rifle.

Interesting that Malcolm X survives longer in TTL, what happened to King again? I'd imagine that this is going to be a far bloodier era than what happened.
Reform is now impossible. If compromise is not possible, we're looking at a seriously painful and violent decade ahead for the US. The rust belt is about to really get going and there is looking like no way they'll ever vote anything but socialist now (which is a rather massive shift from, for some reason, very Conservative voting base) at least for a decade or so.

With the poor and the downtrodden United, this may be curtains for mainstream US poltics and the rise of radicals on both sides. Its the only way the Democrats can get back in again (i.e. go all the way and actually become a left leaning party) and the only way for the Republican party to survive without having a major rethink (go even further right than...Well...otl now).

I don't see the US getting out of the 70s alive and unaltered dramatically...Good for the syndicalists, because I imagine the Soviets are in an even worse state and someone needs to keep the communism alive.
 
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So, my uncle was a fireman back in the day from Dearborn, Michigan, and told a story that during the riots he was the only fireman near his ladder truck, and he had kept an axe nearby, just in case. He wasn't bothered throughout the night, and thought himself lucky, until someone called out behind him. My uncle said he turned around and saw an elderly Black man sitting on a rocking chair on his porch with a shotgun next to him, who responded that he was, "watching over the nice white boy helping put out the fires, making sure no one messed with him."
That's a fantastic story.

Reform is now impossible. If compromise is not possible, we're looking at a seriously painful and violent decade ahead for the US. The rust belt is about to really get going and there is looking like no way they'll ever vote anything but socialist now (which is a rather massive shift from, for some reason, very Conservative voting base) at least for a decade or so.

With the poor and the downtrodden United, this may be curtains for mainstream US poltics and the rise of radicals on both sides. Its the only way the Democrats can get back in again (i.e. go all the way and actually become a left leaning party) and the only way for the Republican party to survive without having a major rethink (go even further right than...Well...otl now).

I don't see the US getting out of the 70s alive and unaltered dramatically...Good for the syndicalists, because I imagine the Soviets are in an even worse state and someone needs to keep the communism alive.
The implications are significant for the rest of the world, too, because America is imploding just at the time that conceivably it might have looked like it had 'won'. Any idea of swapping out what (Western) Europe has for the US system is dead in the water, so we're going to see forms of opposition that aren't just American liberal democracy. And as you say, that's not going to be found in the mainstream.

As for the US itself… I know virtually nothing about what KH is planning domestically, other than who the presidents are, but I think you're right and beyond a third red scare there's going to have to be some leftward shift by the dems. But at the same time, they're the ones who got the place into this mess, so whether they're going to be trusted by anyone for the next cycle at least is not a given. If a conservative hegemony does manage to take control of things, we could well be in for a geenration of 'don't let them take us back to the 60s'-style attacks on the left establishment à la Labour after 1979 OTL. One productive thing to come out of this might be unusually emboldened unions, if they can overcome the standard divide and conquer racial tactics which are no doubt around the corner.

What I find most amusing is that, without any real degree of coordination, me and KH have pretty much contrived to lead Britain and the US to the same place by the time of the finale. Which I guess is what you get when you both pursue reasonably orthodox corporatist policies but dress them up in arbitrary capitalist/syndicalist garb.
 
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So, my uncle was a fireman back in the day from Dearborn, Michigan, and told a story that during the riots he was the only fireman near his ladder truck, and he had kept an axe nearby, just in case. He wasn't bothered throughout the night, and thought himself lucky, until someone called out behind him. My uncle said he turned around and saw an elderly Black man sitting on a rocking chair on his porch with a shotgun next to him, who responded that he was, "watching over the nice white boy helping put out the fires, making sure no one messed with him."

Also, just a nitpick, because you didn't do it anywhere else: you mention with Cook that he uses a "sniper" and left off "rifle." This is of course a habit that's crept into normal conversation and drives me nuts. Sniper is a person or a job, but shouldn't be used alone if describing the pattern of rifle.

Interesting that Malcolm X survives longer in TTL, what happened to King again? I'd imagine that this is going to be a far bloodier era than what happened.
soon i will have a great arsenal of writing pet peeves to strategically deploy for maximum audience annoyance :p

and a great anecdote too. firing on firemen became pretty widespread during our OTL Hot Summer.

Reform is now impossible. If compromise is not possible, we're looking at a seriously painful and violent decade ahead for the US. The rust belt is about to really get going and there is looking like no way they'll ever vote anything but socialist now (which is a rather massive shift from, for some reason, very Conservative voting base) at least for a decade or so.

With the poor and the downtrodden United, this may be curtains for mainstream US poltics and the rise of radicals on both sides. Its the only way the Democrats can get back in again (i.e. go all the way and actually become a left leaning party) and the only way for the Republican party to survive without having a major rethink (go even further right than...Well...otl now).

I don't see the US getting out of the 70s alive and unaltered dramatically...Good for the syndicalists, because I imagine the Soviets are in an even worse state and someone needs to keep the communism alive.
i wouldn't go so far to say the rust belt is going be dancing with socialism. i think the update does do justice to the notion of a fed up minority and a generally apathetic, hard-pressed majority that is white America without venturing too far into the imminent conversion of the proletariat. even so, we certainly have made room for various radical flirtations in all directions, and more on that to come!

but yeah, i wouldn't walk away with a sort of inspired view that it's kumbaya time for our left audience, that would have been far too optimistic for the closing days of Echoes.
 
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This isn't going to end well...
 
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DensleyBlair

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Now that I've finally voted I have a leg to stand on to do this, so I will interrupt the doom and gloom to remind all comers that the Q1 ACAs are live. Voting takes place until Sunday May 9, which means there's still plenty of time to get a ballot filled out. Turnout has been a bit low so far and it would be nice to see a bit of a late surge.

As ever, this AAR is eligible, but you are under no obligation to vote for it.
 
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Anuerin

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Lindbergh not being discredited for his flirtations with Nazism and so remaining within the respectable far right is a really neat twist.
 
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DensleyBlair

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Lindbergh not being discredited for his flirtations with Nazism and so remaining within the respectable far right is a really neat twist.
The whole “nazism just got brushed under the carpet” thing is going to come back to bite a lot of people pretty soon. In a very dark way it’s interesting to think about the ramifications.
 
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99KingHigh

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pmnIzj3.jpg

Up next, our commentator for the late 1960s with a very special guest on the topic of France...
 
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