I was born March 8, 1947 into a railroad family. My mother is Swedish and Mormon, and my father Italian and Catholic. I had two major passions in my early teens: the Democratic Party and John F. Kennedy. With his assassination and then the failure to seat the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in the summer of 1964, I lost all mooring with Party politics. The following May 1965, I graduated from Pocatello High School; I was eighteen, registered for the draft, and the nation was at war. Mr. Johnson’s escalation of the war in Vietnam, the sending the troops into the Dominican Republic, completed my crisis of faith; I was no longer a Democrat. I have been a socialist of one type or another ever since.
My history is an intellectually personal history of the awakening and growth of a radical in love with the wonderment of the radical life-style. This is a story of an insurrection and rebellion on the limits placed upon human essential quality in a bourgeois society. This rebellion is at its core anti-capitalist, anti-state, anti-bureaucratic, anti-clerical, anti-patriarchal and anti-positivist.
This rebellion has continually evolved as age brought more insight and wisdom. One tradition replaces another–not that they are outgrown or abandoned, but led naturally by life experiences to a new way of dealing with life. This is a rebellion born in experience and not abstraction of an isolated rebel. In the early days of my youth, Camus provided an image of the isolated rebel fighting for human dignity, stripped of all meaning in a world given over to the absurd.
Particularly because of the rebellion that was the 1960’s, I soon discovered the philosophy of the Russian Anarchists: Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, and Berkman. This became my gospel, as I saw myself as but a small part of the struggle for human dignity and emancipation against the evil trinity of the market economy, organized religion, and the state (any form of government). I felt we would rise up and eradicate the evil trinity; and the malfeasant archangels’ patriarchal family and nationalism (patriotism), this treacherous and heinous essence would soon too fall to the vengeful sword of the frightful revolutionary mass. With the collapse of the movement in the early 1970s the veterans and history of the Old Left became beautiful beacons in the night. The Industrial Workers of the World, Socialist party USA, Communist Party USA, and the Socialist Workers Party became my four directions. Also, the National Liberation Struggles of the poor countries of the world were always a moral inspiration. The Russian Revolution, The French, Italian, and Yugoslav resistance during World War II, the Chinese Revolution, Algerian Revolution, Cuban Revolution, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala all were seen as acts of courage against tremendous odds. My romantic side also grew as I discovered Karl Polanyi and the Substantivists. From Rosa Luxemburg I learned that theory and human compassion go together. From Leon Trotsky I learned that Revolutions are never over, but build upon the previous generations and continue to grow as long as there are humans on the earth. From Lenin I learned that without a theory that evolves to meet the needs of the current situation there is no revolution. From Mao it is the people and not the leaders that are critical to the success of the Revolution. From Gramsci we are all philosophers of action. From the writings of Cabral we are all part of the same struggle, and that the toiling poor are the vanguards of experience. Through Al Szymanski I learned a Marxist-Leninist discipline to supplement my Anarchist- Syndicalist scattered life style. From Vern Dorjahn I had a friend who nurtured my scholarly imagination. From living six years among the Dine’ I learned to see the world from more than one pair of eyes. The philosophy of the Dine’ taught me that K’e’ of the Dine’ means not only am I my sister and brothers keeper, they are my keeper as well. The Dine’ were teachers who always taught that romantic is good. Culturally today, I would say, I am first of all a unity of the following; anarchist-syndicalist, democratic socialist, and revolutionary communist. Half Wobbly and half Bolshevik for short.