I have a more or less fixed memory of the end of the 'Sixties'. In the autumn of 1970 I went to join a strike picket at the General Motors plant in Fremont, California. Handy for Berkeley and Oakland, the factory was one of the salients of a national labour shutdown that was scheduled to begin at 12 o'clock at night. In the ranks of supporters were hardened veterans of the battle against the Vietnam War, especially of the famous blockades of the military recruiting centres in the Bay Area. Sympathisers of the not yet discredited Black Panther Party were in evidence, as were those who had been beaten and tear-gassed alongside César Chávez in his fight to unionise the near-serfs of the Salinas Valley agribusiness empire. All the strands of 'the movement' were still in some kind of alignment. Just before the deadline, the company cops tried to smuggle some scab trucks through the gates, and the resulting bonfire of overturned vehicles gave a lovely light. In the next edition of the People's World, the splash headline was a very Sixties one: 'Fremont - In The Midnight Hour'. It competed for space with another, smaller headline, which announced the victory of Salvador Allende's 'Popular Unity' coalition in Chile.
LRB 11 July 2002 | PDF Download