Hitchhiking to the Revolution: A Hitchhiker’s Tale from the Seventies

Last month I posted the talk that I gave at the “Women’s History in the Digital World 2015” conference at Bryn Mawr College. Given the narrow scope of the conference, women’s studies, the scope of my talk was limited to the feminist and lesbian underground papers. The week after, I spoke at Left Forum 2015. There, the scope was “the political Left”—including national, international, any topic at all. So, my talk, adapted from two previous talks and reproduced below, was on the broader definition of the underground press, beyond the women’s papers, beyond the thread that begins with the Los Angeles Free Press. All of the definitions need to be known, their stories celebrated and shared widely especially with the current and future generations of activists, our intergenerational peers.

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Emily, Ken, and Ernestine Hemingway hitchhiking in Austin, Texas, 1978. From wedding invitation. Caption: "Emily and Ken are finally getting hitched"

Emily, Ken, and Ernestine Hemingway hitchhiking in Austin, Texas, 1978. From wedding invitation. Caption: “Emily and Ken are finally getting hitched”

In the late sixties and throughout the seventies, I was a hitchhiker. I hitchhiked not only around town but to all ends of the country. Everywhere I went, I met folks who either were on their local underground newspapers or read one on a regular basis.

I met ex-cons working on Penal Digest International, a prisoners’ rights paper in Iowa City. I hitchhiked to a women’s liberation march in DC with five women from Lansing who all read Her-self, a women’s paper out of Ann Arbor. In 1972, I hitchhiked to Madison and stayed with a staffer for their paper, Takeover, who I met through their local crash pad file, and I helped the local Yippies organize a Smoke-In. Later, after they bailed me out of jail following a street demonstration, I drove down to Miami with them to organize against the Democrats and Republicans, who both held their nominating conventions there that summer. While there I contributed a piece to the Daily Planet and worked with the Underground Press Syndicate. Everywhere I went, I met gays and lesbians who tried to convert me to their agenda, which was basically “Live and let live.” They had their favorite papers that emerged after the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, including Gay Liberator in Detroit, Gay Sunshine in San Francisco, and Fag Rag in Boston.

In my foreword to the first edition of Voices from the Underground I wrote:

The period was a vision as much as a reality. It was a time of experimentation. We made mistakes and learned from them. In the beginning, men attacked sexism while women typed their articles. In the end, women founded the feminist and lesbian press and men learned that it was okay to cry. For all its faults, the sixties was a magical period. A time warp opened up and those who stepped inside glimpsed the new paradigm that brought together the best visions of the visionaries and showed us, on a small scale, how to make them work. On the pages of the underground press, writers tried to reduce the vision to the written word and apply the strategies to a larger scale. Those who were touched remain touched.

It was a fleeting vision for sure. We were offered the fruits of so many liberation movements to harvest that it’s no mystery why there was a return to the land. But not everybody embraced the changes. The period divided and traumatized our country like no period since the civil war.

By the time the war ended, activists of the antiwar movement had turned inward and embraced the Me Decade. Meanwhile, the country swung dramatically to the right. Vietnam was pretty much written out of public discourse. Few high school or college courses studied it honestly.

By 1993, when I published the first edition of Voices from the Underground, my anthology of underground press histories as written by key people on each of the papers, we were living in Reagan’s America. The country had shifted so dramatically to the right, veterans of the antiwar movement, who were now having children and looking for career jobs, were scared to talk about their experiences, even with their kids, even though they had proudly been part of the broadest, most diverse antiwar movement in the history of our country. Those who wrote their stories with me displayed courage.

Voices from the Underground, first edition, volume 1

Voices from the Underground, first edition, volume 1

Today the underground press is becoming better known, though it has not nearly reached the level of recognition that accurate history requires. Scholars like John McMillian (Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America) and James Lewes (Protest and Survive: Underground GI Newspapers during the Vietnam War) are writing dissertations on it and publishing them. James, in fact, is the world expert on the GI underground press as well as a major supporter of Independent Voices, the underground press digital project that I’m talking about here. Young librarians like Suzanne Parenti Sink (from Florida Atlantic University) and Laurie Charnigo (from Jacksonville State University) are compiling major collections for their libraries and speaking about the underground press at conferences.

So what was the underground press?

The underground press was the independent, non-corporate, antiwar alternative to the corporate press of the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras. The traditional history of the underground press focuses on the Los Angeles Free Press, which was founded in 1964, as being the first underground paper of what was known as the counterculture. It might have been.

But in my vision and based on my work, I’ve expanded the term to include the papers of the liberation movements, whose roots go back earlier. Major gay and lesbian papers came out of the fifties: ONE, Mattachine Review, The Ladder. The first lesbian paper of our era, Vice Versa, goes back even further, to 1947. Important black papers also pre-dated the Free Press. The Student Voice, the paper of SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), began publishing in 1960. Freedomways, founded by W.E.B. Du Bois and others, began the next year. Paul Robeson founded his paper, Freedom, during the Korean War.

All of these papers already are or will be, by the way, in Independent Voices.

But these papers were sporadic. After the Free Press, and thanks to the advanced technology of offset printing, underground papers in tabloid format focusing on the antiwar movement and the emerging counterculture and its related liberation movements flourished. They were found everywhere you looked: on campus and off, in urban, suburban, rural, ghetto, barrio, and other communities in every state of the Union and in countries around the world. They represented the gay, lesbian, feminist, black, Native American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Asian American, prisoners’ rights, military, New Age, socialist, anarchist, psychedelic, high school, senior citizen, rank and file, Southern consciousness, and other alternative voices of the day. They spoke to their own unique audiences. But they were united against the war.

Many of them were members of Underground Press Syndicate, the first nationwide network of underground papers from the sixties and seventies.

The underground press was such a major, all-encompassing part of my life in the early seventies that I still find it hard to believe that not everyone knows about its role in ending the war. But today when I talk about it with young folks who are the age now that we were then, who I call our intergenerational peers, I get blank stares.

It’s no surprise. Students today still are seldom taught the truth about the Vietnam War. History classes too often still gloss over it while ignoring the role of the antiwar movement in bringing it to an end. Journalism classes still traditionally ignore or downplay the place of the underground press in the history of journalism.

Today, political blogs have taken up the tradition that we carried on in the fifties through the eighties but most young bloggers themselves have no idea of their political roots. One of the best sites, in my opinion, is Daily Kos. “Kos” is Markos Moulitsas, who founded it. So I wrote to Markos and asked him to write a foreword to volume 1 of my series as a way to link our generations. I sent him a few sample chapters. He wrote back to me and said, “Ken, I’d love to but—I have to admit—I don’t know anything about the underground press.” I said, “I know that, Markos. I read your last book. You don’t even mention it.”

But I wasn’t criticizing Markos. He’s a college graduate, even has a law degree. But he never learned about the underground press. I told him that’s why I wrote to him. I said I wanted him to write from the perspective of someone who had just discovered his own political predecessor. He agreed and he wrote a remarkable piece.

When the first edition of Voices was coming out, Art Levin, who was the general manager of Michigan State University’s State News during the time I wrote for Joint Issue, the Lansing-area underground paper, wrote:

The period of the late sixties and early seventies was a high water mark for American journalism. For the first time in American history, the vision of Justices Holmes and Brandeis blossomed and bore fruit. A multitude of voices, the essence of democracy, resounded through the land providing a compelling alternative against the stifling banality of the establishment press. What this nation had during the Vietnam War was exactly what the founding fathers understood the press to be all about when they wrote the First Amendment.

Since those days, it’s been a personal mission of mine, I admit, to make sure that that history is not forgotten and to educate others on how they can learn more about it to prevent future Vietnams from happening. So it was a karmic blessing when I was approached by Jeff Moyer one day five years back to lead the effort to digitize underground, alternative, and literary papers from the fifties through the eighties.

Jeff was the former head of the digitizing department at ProQuest. With a partner, he bought out the department and founded IDC, Image Data Conversion. But on his own he also started Reveal Digital because he had an idea for an economic model that would create wondrous keyword-searchable digital collections in a way that was friendly to library budgets and would end up with the collections going into open access, the holy grail for librarians. The first collection he wanted to create was of underground newspapers. He approached me after discovering the first edition of Voices from the Underground at the library of Eastern Michigan University, where I used to teach. He brought me on board as a consultant and not long after that he hired me full time.

What attracted me to the project, besides the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the underground press, was Jeff’s economic model, what he calls “cost recovery = open access.” Basically, we promote upcoming projects to libraries through our crowd-funding website, where we describe each project, explain its significance, lay out the proposed contents as well as the sourcing libraries, and list the line-item expenses. Then we invite libraries to make non-binding commitments to purchase the collection but we don’t yet invoice them. When we have enough commitments to recover the costs, what we call our “sales threshold,” we go into full production, including rights gathering, sourcing from libraries, and scanning and digitizing.

Projects that are looking for funding include

Libraries pay according to a tiered structure but it amounts to about 20% of what they would pay one of the larger digital publishing companies for a comparable project that the company would keep behind a pay wall forever. Those libraries that support us have immediate access to the evolving collection while it is in development. Soon after it is completed, it goes into open access where even those libraries that didn’t support it have access to it. Meanwhile we’ll be working on other projects with the same model. No library pays for every collection but everyone benefits from every collection.

This is a righteous model that deserves library and foundation support. In an earlier life I worked for many years as managing editor of Reference Services Review and Serials Review, two journals that were read widely by reference librarians and serials librarians. I read countless articles and heard countless librarian laments about rising costs and decreasing budgets. But I also remembered the community feeling that librarians shared. The focus was always on increasing and facilitating user access. Usually it was the larger libraries that made the big investments and then the benefits would trickle down to the smaller libraries. With Reveal’s tiered structure, everyone can help.

With Independent Voices, the underground press collection, we’re still looking for funding but we are already actively working on it because we wanted to get one live collection out into the public. Our goal was to get over 1,000 titles. We already have more than that including some 120 women’s papers, 130 literary magazines—what were known as “little” magazines back then, some 20 gay papers, 60 minority papers, over 100 campus, community, high school, and other underground and alternative newspapers, 900 papers published by and for members of the military in all branches of the service, and even 4 papers published by the FBI to sow dissension in the Movement.

Reveal Digital's Independent Voices digital collection

Reveal Digital’s Independent Voices digital collection

So far we’re about 40% of the way to being fully funded. We could include a lot more titles, and we would like to, if we had the funding.

We’re working with a growing team of libraries that are sending us original papers from their collections that we scan and digitize and then return safely to them along with keyword-searchable digital files and metadata of the papers that we scan.

Our goal is to upload a million pages of exact keyword-searchable digital reproductions by the end of January 2017. So far we have uploaded about 250,000 pages. Currently the collection is accessible only to patrons of our supporting libraries. After we reach our sales threshold, we’ll go into open access, which is the vision. However, libraries can make the files that we send them accessible immediately.

So this is where we are now.

In the sixties, we of the antiwar movement discovered philosopher George Santayana, who said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yippie Abbie Hoffman added, “The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.” So we studied the first wave of feminism from the 1800s, the anarchists at the turn of the last century, the union struggles of the thirties, and much more, while we created and wrote about our present.

We’re still out there, organizing and teaching and keeping our visions alive. But as a generation we’ve peaked. Those of you who are college age and recently beyond, it’s your turn now to lead the struggle that we carried on from generations before us.

Our two generations and our struggles are intimately connected. In my generation, we flooded the colleges for at least two reasons: tuition was low and staying in college gave you a 2-S draft deferment. While we were in the college atmosphere, we learned how to think logically and critically, we met with other thinkers, and we organized to end a vicious war. It was the spawning ground for gender, minority, environmental, and other liberation movements. The underground press absorbed our thoughts and preserved them for you to study and critique.

The right has waged a relentless war against education since then—and make no mistake they want you to be either dumb and mindless—apparently truth is liberal—or so in debt you are a slave to your job, which, thanks to them, pays less and provides fewer benefits. So they have actively and enthusiastically waged war on public schools, attacked teachers’ unions, and cut aid for higher education.

The issues that we raised, the struggles we fought, were analyzed and documented in the pages of the underground and alternative press. Some of it was pretty crazy. One night I dropped acid with a fellow staffer and we went to a revival meeting to hear Leighton Ford, the son-in-law of Billy Graham. I took voracious notes—there was speed in the acid. On the way back, I read aloud some of what I wrote and my friend thought it was funny so I published my notes and called the article “I Dropped Acid and Saw God.” Another article I wrote was about a game a couple of my friends made up where they followed police cars and tried to not get busted. I called the article “Got One on the Pig-O-Scope.” I was attacked for being irresponsible because high schoolers read our paper. I was.

"I Dropped Acid and Saw God," from Joint Issue 3:16 (10/30/72)

“I Dropped Acid and Saw God,” from Joint Issue 3:16 (10/30/72)

But we also attacked the government’s atrocities in Vietnam and other countries and connected them to injustices at home as we worked to create a peace community. Your battle, one of them, is to take back the schools and colleges by ensuring the right to a decent, low-cost education that leads to a good job. Join the movement to eliminate student debt. If we can wipe bank debts clean and give billionaires tax breaks, we can wipe student debts clean also.

Today we’re doing okay on some of the social issues that emerged back then: gay rights, legalized marijuana, health care. Public awareness is starting to turn the corner on the environment and the Middle East. We’re getting trounced, but raising awareness, on women’s rights, immigrant rights, voting rights. Economically we’ve got our work cut out for us with union rights, student tuition, the wealth gap, campaign finance laws, expanding Social Security. There are other issues, and they’re all connected. Learn how. Don’t accept simplistic solutions that pit potential allies against each other. And don’t give in to despair.

We made lots of mistakes back when but we made some brilliant analyses, changed the world, and had fun. We quoted the words of anarchist Emma Goldman, who said, “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” Stew Albert, who was one of the legendary founders of the Yippies, said to me one day words that I have never forgotten. He said, “We can’t lose. We’re having too much fun.” It was summer 1972 in Miami Beach, where the Democrats and Republicans were holding their presidential conventions. We were at that moment on our way to the Yippie Puke-In.

Study this period. There has never been a more exciting, outrageous, mythological, liberating, artistic, magical period in our country’s history.

Begin by scouring the pages of the underground press.

Challenge everything you learn, including everything I just said.

Then create your own myths.

Happy Memorial Day: Kill Anything That Moves

Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), by Nick Turse, is an amazing book. I hated reading it. I hope every reader feels the same, and that he has lots of readers. This is the book that pulls together all the threads of horror stories that the antiwar movement shouted to our home communities, to our elected leaders, and to our war-supporting corporate newspapers that censored us and provoked us to create the independent, antiwar underground press.

KillAnythingThatMoves

Throughout every chapter I kept saying, “I get the point. Do I have to read more?”

But I felt obligated to finish it. As a good American who loves my country even while I despise our corporate foreign policy, I felt obligated. As a Jew who is motivated more by our tradition of “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you” (Jesus stole this one from Hillel and got rid of the double negatives; as a professional editor, I would have done the same) than I am by mindless rituals of religious fanatics who cite God and creative bigotry to claim control over where Palestinians live and Jewish women pray, I felt obligated. As a practicing zen phony who sees everyone and everything as part of the same whole, I felt obligated.

Every chapter recounted instances of American atrocities against the Vietnamese people. The message was that My Lai, the massacre that shocked our collective conscience when it was exposed, was not an exception. It was the rule. And, in fact, it wasn’t even the worst example of the rule. Turse names names and provides statistics. Most touching were the interviews with Vietnamese survivors. It was easier to condone their deaths, or to not be moved to action by them, when they were faceless. It is impossible now if you have any humanity, though it is still possible with our recent and current wars in the Mideast. Those books remain to be written.

The military followed what Turse called the “mere-gook rule,” or MGR:

The notion that Vietnam’s inhabitants were something less than human was often spoken of as the “mere-gook rule,” or, in the acronym-mad military, the MGR. This held that all Vietnamese—northern and southern, adults and children, armed enemy and innocent civilian—were little more than animals, who could be killed or abused at will. The MGR enabled soldiers to abuse children for amusement; it allowed officers sitting in judgment at courts-martial to let off murderers with little or no punishment; and it paved the way for commanders to willfully ignore rampant abuses by their troops while racking up “kills” to win favor at the Pentagon.

To show that this attitude went all the way to the top, in his next paragraph, he quotes General William Westmoreland, who commanded the U.S. military effort in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968 and then went on to serve four years as U.S. Army Chief of Staff: “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient. As the philosophy of the Orient expresses it, life is not important.”

And so during the Vietnam War years we read in the corporate media about how the Vietnamese would walk behind their children so that any bombs that lay hidden in the fields would be detonated by the touch of the children and spare the adults. In Kill Anything That Moves, Turse reveals that it was the GIs who made the Vietnamese walk in front.

We leveled hamlets, killed northerners (the “enemy”) and southerners (our “allies”) equally, indiscriminately murdered noncombatants, raped women, and, yes, killed babies.

As I read about one atrocity after the next, I wondered how I would summarize them in a review. Would I choose one instance over another and call it the worst? Would I list several and call them typical? Would I reel off a string of statistics so gruesome that they become numbing?

In the end, I closed the book and my eyes, then opened both and pointed. I found my finger pointing to page one of chapter 6, titled “The Bummer, the ‘Gook-Hunting’ General, and the Butcher of the Delta.” I encourage you to get the book so you can read about the latter two perverts.

The Bummer was

Sergeant Roy Bumgarner of the army’s 1st Cavalry Division and then 173rd Airborne Brigade in Binh Dinh Province, a soldier who reportedly amassed an astonishing personal body count of more than 1,500 enemy KIAs [killed in action], sometimes logging more kills with his six-man ‘wildcat’ team than the rest of his 500-man battalion combined.

Private Arthur Williams, a GI who was repulsed by what he saw (and he was hardly the exception; the same was true of many GIs throughout the war), reported on Bumgarner’s leading role in multiple incidents of murder of unarmed farmers and children and was labeled a malcontent.

The extended passage goes on to give further examples of Bumgarner’s actions and note GIs who leveled charges against him. At his subsequent trial, however, “superior officers and fellow sergeants lined up to praise the thirty-eight-year-old sergeant as a model combat leader.” In his own testimony, he showed off the medals he had earned, including a Silver Star, the third-highest military decoration awarded for valor in combat. One of the witnesses was a GI who had formerly spoken out against Bumgarner. By the time of the trial, he had, assumedly under pressure, recanted his testimony and now supported Bumgarner.

In the end, Bumgarner was in fact convicted, but only of unpremeditated murder. He never spent a single day in prison for his crimes. Instead, for the deaths of three innocent Vietnamese civilians, he was sentenced only to be reduced in rank and fined ninety-seven dollars a month for twenty-four months. On appeal, that, in turn, was reduced to six months.

He continued to serve in Vietnam. While reduced in rank to a private, he eventually made it back to sergeant.

Just how many civilians died at Bumgarner’s hand will never be known, but we do know this: He killed innocent people simply because they were Vietnamese and then labeled them as enemy dead. He mutilated bodies and planted weapons on those he murdered to conceal his crimes. He instructed subordinates to take part in his misdeeds and then help cover them up. And he trained countless impressionable young men in his methods. The military knew all of this and still welcomed his continued service. Roy Bumgarner could have been stopped, but instead the military was his enabler.

Here I disagree with Turse. In particular, I object to the word “enabler.” The connotation is that he had a problem and the military passively encouraged it by not actively discouraging it. Think Uncle Joe the drunk who is treated as the life of the party because of his hilarious inebriation-induced antics instead of the sick alcoholic in need of help that he is. Uncle Joe’s family members may not call him out for his sickness but you know that the healthier members are at least embarrassed by him. Certainly they don’t hold him up as a shining role model for the next generation.

The military did. They didn’t just enable Bumgarner. They created him. They actively encouraged him. They benefited from his actions. They rewarded him and allowed him to train his young subordinates to become like him.

Our troops came home from Vietnam craving a welcome-home parade. They wanted to be treated like heroes, like the returning World War II veterans. But they weren’t heroes. Individuals like Private Arthur Williams performed heroic acts, but how, in general, can our GIs have been heroes when they fought on the side of the bad guys, which is where history has solidly placed the United States? Our government was the enemy. Those GIs who were drafted against their will or who enlisted willingly but had their eyes opened once they were overseas were victims. When we honor them this Memorial Day, how about offering a national “We’re sorry”? How about promising, in their honor and the memory of those who are no longer with us or are living in cardboard boxes, to never again send young soldiers—or drone missiles—off to countries where we are not wanted and that have not threatened our national security? How about honoring our veterans by giving them medical care to at least alleviate the damage that we caused them; and then providing them with decent jobs to help them live decent lives and raise decent, peace-loving families here at home?

During the Vietnam War, the antiwar community on both sides of the ocean were the heroes. In the military, the greatest heroes were those GIs, in every branch of service, who courageously turned against the war. Turse notes that “By 1971, antiwar GIs were producing hundreds of underground newspapers that encouraged disobedience and rebellion.” More clearly, as Harry Haines and James Lewes have documented (see Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 2), over 500 underground newspapers were published by or directed to members of the military, all branches. Further research by Lewes since the book’s release has uncovered at least 300 more. These GIs were heroes.

On this Memorial Day, let’s follow the parades led by veterans of the GI underground press and by members of the heroic Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the successor groups that have been inspired by subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In this coming year, let’s work to reduce the number of future veterans.

Another Positive CHOICE Review: For Insider Histories, Part 2

It’s never happened to me before but I’m delighted that it did: Positive (okay, actually glowing) reviews two months in a row in CHOICE. Last month they reviewed Michael “Mica” Kindman’s story, My Odyssey through the Underground Press, which is volume 2 in the Voices from the Underground Series. This one is for Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 2, which is volume 3.

Readers of popular journals may not be familiar with CHOICE but it is a key decision maker for librarians purchasing books for their libraries. I’m grateful to them for permission to reprint it here. It appears in the September 2012 issue. While it contains a few errors, they are minor and do not detract from the overall importance of the review.

This volume joins the series’ first volume (reprinted in 2011) and includes another interesting diverse sampling of underground newspapers that existed during the Vietnam War period. Examples include The Ally (an American GI newspaper), the Eugene AUGER [sic] (focusing on the antiwar movement), The Black Panther Intercommunal News Service, The Furies Collective [sic] (a Washington, DC-based feminist and lesbian newspaper), It Aint Me Babe (the first national newspaper of the Women’s Liberation Movement), The Kudzu (a Jackson, Mississippi, newspaper published by the Southern Student Organizing Committee, affiliated with Students for a Democratic Society), and New Age (an underground workers newspaper), among others. There are also background stories and firsthand tellings that complement the content of volume 1, from Fag Rag (a Boston-based underground newspaper that was part of the Gay Liberation Front press) and The Fifth Estate (out of Detroit). The book features illustrations, including staff working and pictorial collages. Required reading for those interested in the underground press or this era in the US, this book directs attention to and provides missed voices in scholarship of this period in history. Summing Up: Essential. All readers.—M. Goldsmith, Nicholls State University (Reprinted with permission from CHOICE http://www.cro2.org,  copyright by the American Library Association. )

Volume 3 of landmark Vietnam antiwar opus out in time to oppose Iran War

At long last, volume 3 of my Voices from the Underground Press Series is out. The timing couldn’t be better as the drums beat louder for war in Iran.

The Voices from the Underground Series is a four-volume collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam era as told by key people on each of the papers, all of them just regular folks from varied backgrounds who answered the patriotic call to resist war and now share their heroic adventures. The underground press was the independent, antiwar press of the Vietnam era that told the true story, which the corporate papers suppressed, of what our government was doing behind our backs to the Vietnamese people in our name and with our tax dollars.

Stories in the series represent the gay, lesbian, feminist, Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, military, prisoners’ rights, socialist, new age, rank-and-file, Southern consciousness, psychedelic, and other independent antiwar voices of the era as never before told. The foreword in volume 3 is by feminist pioneer Susan Brownmiller.

If you experienced the Vietnam era but for some reason are now hazy on the details, or if you could never describe the intensity of the politics when your kids (and now grandkids) asked what life was like then, or if you succumbed to the fear that followed our country’s dramatic post-war shift to the right and covered up your experiences, as too many of our generation did, this book is for you.

If you are a progressive blogger, this book, and the entire series, is about the folks who did what you’re doing now by using what was then the new technology of offset printing. Marcos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, one of the most important progressive blog sites today, connected the two generations in his foreword that appeared in volume 1.

And, especially, if you are of military age—this book is dedicated to you, our intergenerational peers, who have been called upon already to defend two sham causes in Iraq and Afghanistan and soon will be called upon—unless we start mobilizing now—to shed your lives in Iran. In this amazing book you will see how others who were your age but from a different era created a new society while finding the courage to refuse to fight even when those who would profit from war called them cowards and traitors for not submitting quietly.

Begin with Harry Haines’ story of the widespread GI antiwar movement, now largely hidden from the public debate, and in particular Aboveground, an antiwar paper directed at soldiers stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. Two appendices, by Haines and James Lewes, without a doubt the world expert on the military underground press, identify nearly 500 underground newspapers produced by or aimed at members of the U.S. armed forces, all branches, during the Vietnam War.

When those who want endless war cry “Support the troops,” remember that there is only one way to support the troops and that is to bring them home, away from foreign entanglements where they don’t belong; or not ship them there in the first place.

Does anyone really think the age of racism is over just because we have a black president? For background, read stories of the Black Panther newspaper by JoNina Abron, the paper’s last editor; and Palante, the newspaper of the Puerto Rican liberation group Young Lords Organization, by Pablo “Yorúba” Guzmán.

As anyone who breathes air knows, the Republicans’ war on women and the GLBT community is accelerating. Read stories of

  • It Aint Me Babe, the first national newspaper of the emerging women’s liberation movement, by members of the collective;
  • The Furies, published by twelve self-proclaimed revolutionary lesbian feminists from Washington, D.C., by Ginny Berson; and
  • Fag Rag, one of the most important Gay Liberation Front newspapers to arise after the Stonewall Rebellion, by Charley Shively.

Reflect on the war against union workers being fought in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, and everywhere else where Republicans have seized control of government. Then remember why labor unions are essential for a strong middle class as you read Paul Krehbiel’s story of New Age, an antiwar paper published by rank-and-file union workers in upstate New York.

These wars that are being fought now were all fought during the Vietnam era. Too many of us thought we had won. Could it be we relaxed? The lesson, and I’m not the first to declare it, is that freedom has to be won in every generation. It helps to know how allies from an earlier period did it.

Other stories in volume 3 of the 4-volume Voices from the Underground Series:

  • Bob Hippler recalls fast times in the Motor City with his history of the first ten years of Detroit’s Fifth Estate, the longest-running underground paper to emerge from the sixties.
  • Peter Jensen takes us to the end of the Oregon Trail where an alien force had taken over our country; it talked peace and made vicious war; it owned both political parties; its media reported inflated, daily body counts for generals in Saigon and Washington; and the Eugene AUGUR was all that was left of the opposition.
  • David Doggett tackles the question of how a bunch of Mississippi white kids, descended from rednecks, slave owners, and Bible-thumpers, published for four years in the state’s capital The Kudzu, a running diatribe of social, economic, and political revolution, a proclamation of sexual liberation, illegal drugs, and heretical mysticism.
  • Tim Wong reflects on his own eight and a half years of alternative journalism in Madison, Wisconsin, the Midwest city most closely associated with the antiwar movement and counterculture of the Vietnam era, and how it chronicled the transition from the sixties to the eighties.
  • and more.

I’m the editor of the series, as well as a contributor. My story on the East Lansing-Lansing, Michigan, underground press, which was my base during the early seventies, appeared in volume 1 and I wrote editor prefaces to all four volumes.

To learn more about the Voices from the Underground Series, read more testimonials, view the entire four-volume table of contents, watch a few cool videos, read some funny stories, and order your copy of volume 3— as well as volumes 1 and 2 if you don’t yet have them, visit www.voicesfromtheunderground.com.

While you’re at it, order a set for your local school library. Besides helping them stretch their shrinking budget, you’ll get a tax write-off for supporting your favorite educational institution. (Don’t trust me. Ask your favorite tax preparer for specifics.)

Volume 4 is due out in August with a foreword by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Reserve your copy now.