Getting to Marxism in Wisconsin and Iowa

Ranney, Dave

Publisher:  Insurgent Notes
Date Written:  20/05/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23439

Dave Ranney recounts his experiences during the 1960s which led him to accepting Marxism. He emphasizes his experinces in Southeast Asia during the 1960s which exposed covert Americian military action in the region. Other formative experiences include those as an university professor in Wisconsin and Iowa where he witnessed and joined campus movements.




The University of Iowa campus at this point was also highly active. While at the University Computer Center one day, soon after I arrived, I found some papers left in a copy room. They were copies of a budget for the Computer Center and I put them in my briefcase. I discovered that more than half the budget came from the Department of Defense for a project at the Rock Island Arsenal. They were helping sharpen calculations for artillery trajectories being used in Viet Nam. I published an article about it in the student newspaper. The students' spontaneous response was to try to storm the Computer Center and it took almost the entire campus and city police force to keep them out. Fortunately I had come to the university with tenure! But this put me in touch with a wide range of campus radicals.

A number of these students and a few faculty members had been connected with sds. Maoism was a major theoretical thread and there were study groups reading the works of Mao. But at this point there was still no Marx. The Maoists were mainly affiliated with Progressive Labor Party and the Revolutionary Union. They couldn’t seem to get beyond "power comes out of the barrel of a gun." I flirted with Maoism for a short time. What brought that to a halt, as a recall, was a sober discussion in a study group one evening of a pamphlet called "How Mao Tse Tung Thought Fixed the Peanut Machine." (Workers located the "primary contradiction" in the broken machine.) That did it for me! No more Maoism with these people.

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