“The World on the Eve of Tet” by Minnie Bloom
We here at Agly Carnival are pleased to publish a new essay by Minnie Bloom, who has been keeping a low profile for many years. She will explain in her own words her reasons for re-appearing at this particular time, but we thought it might be useful to give our audience, especially people of the younger generations, a brief introduction to Minnie and her career.
Born and raised in New Orleans in the Fifties and Sixties, she became a guiding light for the counterculture, civil rights, feminist, and anti-war movements of the Sixties and Seventies. A co-founder of the Students for a Democratic Society and other radical groups,
she focused most of her work on conditions in her native New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. While a student, she organized a local activist group, NOLA for Peace, became the Rosa Luxemberg Faction (RRF) in 1968 and was loosely associated with the Weatherman Faction of the SDS. The RLF provided Minnie a nickname for her revolutionary writing and advocacy: Red Rosa of the Counterculture. Unfortunately for Minnie, she was forced underground, along with most of the RLF, for her involvement in the Hibernia Bank Heist in 1969.
While living “off the grid,” Minnie continued writing throughout the Eighties and Nineties under a variety of pseudonyms. After she settled for good in a remote French village in the late Nineties, she took up with our old friend Sam Santos-Dumont, and gradually turned her attention to local advocacy, such as the effort to protect the remaining eagles living in the forests and garrigue of he upper Agly River: “Eagle” River.
So, after a long hiatus, Red Rosa is back.
The World on the Eve of Tet
Who is paying attention to where we were a half century ago this week? Why should anybody notice, except for a few of us who have managed to live longer than we expected to, given the shattering consequences of what erupted on January 30, 1968? The reason why I think they should is simply put: the shock of the Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese against the South Vietnamese and the Americans had consequences which shaped the world we live in today by shaking the world of 1968 to its core.
On the eve of Tet 1968, President Lyndon Johnson and his military team reassured the world that the Vietnamese War was in its final stages, that American troop deployment would soon decrease as the revitalized South Vietnamese took greater control of their destiny. This rosy picture, if true, would guarantee Johnson re-election and another generation of Democratic domination of Washington. In spite of his unpopularity as a war monger, by claiming the success of his policies, he could argue that the country could indeed have Guns and Butter. The anti-War wing of his party would be neutralized. Etc. The sudden vehemence of the surprise North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacks all across South Vietnam—even the US Embassy in Saigon was besieged—changed everything.
The hollow core of the international military-corporate order suddenly lay visible for all to see. Within weeks of Tet, Johnson announced that he would not run for another term, opening the country to a period of disruptive debate which led to the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the rise of student protest movements that shook the foundations of the world’s conservative and liberal establishments, leading to the May Uprising in France, the Prague Spring, and the election of Richard Nixon.
Now, I can hear you saying “Minnie, you are making way, way too much of ’68. It’s fifty years later, we live in the Digital Age. The Analog Era is long gone, so get over it.” And my answer is to agree, which is what disturbs me and, at Sam Santos-Dumont’s urging, has prompted me to write this essay.
We of the counterculture are like survivors of a plague, disdained by the infected—even despised—and written off as empty-headed idealists (at best) or criminal anarchists (at worst). But we see ourselves in a different light. It is simply a matter of the consciousness and how we use it. For homo sapiens like us, the goal has been rational thinking based on debate and scientific curiosity. For the new homo ditital, the goal is enhanced emotional reactions based on fear, flattery, and fictional realities.
Homo sapiens live by the motto “Cogito ergo sum.” Homo digitals live by the motto “Credo ergo sum.”
This is the world we live in together, but will the digitals listen to us sapiens and learn from our experiences? My challenge is: Listen digitals, we know the military-corporate structure. The battles we fought fifty years ago have not changed and are still worth fighting. Remember the fallen heroes and take the hands of the survivors.
Don’t let credulity win over reason. Don’t be seduced by fear and lies. We all have much to learn from each other. Don’t let the bosses divide us!
Our survival depends on your answer to the question: Which side are you on, on the eve of Tet?
(This post by R Young is part of an on-going series of related stories for the Assumption Street project.)