A Short History of H-R X

When X gets to the Boston Common, Julian Beck and Judith Maline of the Living Theatre come over to the black flag and say they didn't know there were any anarchists in Boston. It is explained that X is not a Bakunonist operation, but rather, it does things that ask to be done. Beck nods, and says that what X tries to do is what he has been trying to do for years. The anarchists point out that there is no point in "comparing" any two ideas.

NOVEMBER 12 -- X plans its biggest and most socially-directed demonstration. The boys and girls of X are to shop passionately in the discount basement of Filene's downtown Boston store. Then at a given moment they are to strip off their clothing and start shouting, "I can not appear without my clothing. I can not travel without a passport."

This, however, turns out to be X's most cowardly demonstration. Much is chanted, but little clothing is removed. When store security people start moving in to stop the spreading of good news, X pivots and runs. "There is no point," one of them said, "to being in jail."

NOVEMBER 22 -- X coagulates to paint a fence. A Soc Rel 136 (the radical critique of Harvard course) section had painted a construction fence opposite Lehman Hall the day before and had had their bursar's cards taken. X went into the teeth of the precedent with indifference. They put the first marks on the Harvard Hall fence before the few members were driven off by a couple of Harvard cops. The token triumph is announced to the people lunching at Lehman Hall, where what is later called a revolution ensues. Someone brings out a record player and starts the then new Beatles album; a girl starts giving a finger painting class; and another person sells yogurt for prices cheaper than Lehman Hall charges. On the next Monday (after the Yale football game) the whole of the Harvard Hall fence is painted with X paint.

JANUARY 14 -- X trundles out in the snows of reading period to urge the faculty voting on punishment for the ROTC sit-in to "Kick the Fags Out of Harvard." Other picket signs read "Nuke the Pukes" (referring to the nickname for non-jocks at Columbia during the time of the revolt), "We're with you, Sam Huntington" (mentioning the name of the author of the CEP ROTC resolution), and "Send the anarchists to Vietnam" (fine irony in this last one).


Along about half way through the flow of faculty comes Tim Gould, serious Harvard undergraduate leftist, up to the X people saying in a very agitated way that they should get out of there because they are just going to get all the demonstrators kicked out of school whereas he is trying to save them by buttonholing professors and giving them good reasons for thinking the way he does. X tells him the campus must defend itself, and that some of his professors are sneaking by.

When it's all over, I'm walking through the Yard with some signs and some other people with signs when a Buildings and Grounds crew guy calls out that we shouldn't go around protesting and playing around when he's working real hard keeping the school going for us. What do you think you're doing anyway, he says, and here I am working . . . . First, I tell him we're protesting to have the real demonstrators punished; you know those SDS types, I say, the one that make all the trouble for the rest of us. Neither this nor the American Flags we are carrying make us good to him.

Then I realize that his analysis pretty much got it. I'm rich and had a whole lot of opportunities as a kid and so that's why I'm at Harvard, or that's why they thought I was "smart" and so am at Harvard. And he's poor, has about zero alternatives, of which working for Harvard is the best one. Yeah, I said, he's right. I can't really argue with that. It exists. So do I. So does H-R X.