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The Boomers Rise Again!

Remember those scenes of hundreds of thousands of young Americans in protest against the Vietnam war, racial oppression, and the draft? Remember singing Dylan's, "The Times They Are A'Changing" and believing every word? Remember, in the decades since those days, hearing people sigh over and over, "Whatever happened to all those revolutionaries?"

Part of the answer comes in a recent application for membership in the Communist Party. A new Texas member writes, "I became radicalized in the anti-Vietnam Era... and was subsequently dragooned into the military.... However, I determined to learn more about Marxism-Leninism on my own and became a life long student." While studying, he went on to make a normal living both at government and private-sector jobs. He joined a union whenever possible, but he remained a quiet family man. However, upon retirement, he considered himself "beyond their reach" and contacted the CPUSA at www.cpusa.org. He also contacted the Obama campaign. He writes, "I understand that the main focus is on defeating the neoconservatives in the next election. McCain is using the same dangerous advisers that Bush used."

America's retirees are finding that the union movement is encouraging their political efforts. The AFL-CIO is cobbling together the many retiree organizations under the umbrella of the Alliance for Retired Americans. They have an excellent web page at www.retiredamericans.org, an outstanding weekly "Friday Alert" e-mail newsletter, and state organizations in the majority of states, including Texas. As America's retirees realize that they are under attack, and as they realize that no one else can defend them as well as they can defend themselves, they have a solid working-class organization ready for them.

The revolutionary youth of the Vietnam days made headlines because, as the largest age group in America, there were so many of them. They made headlines, on the subjective side, because they were outraged at senseless killing and racial exploitation, and, to a certain extent, because they had no grounding ideology that kept them from taking brave but ridiculous actions. On the objective side, because people's objective situation is what really matters, they made headlines because they didn't want racial discrimination, or to be drafted into America's imperialist military. Objectively, most of them stopped protesting after new civil rights legislation and the end of the draft.

The objective situation for those same people, that same giant demographic, larger than any American age group, as new retirees, is what impels them now. As the baby boomers contemplate or enter retirement, they are confronted with a completely unprecedented and savage attack on the rights that older Americans have come to expect. They hear a presidential candidate calling Social Security a "disgrace" and speaking up for privatization. They see a political party united against health care and pensions that are vital to retirement. Our objective situation impels us, when we are young and when we are old. The boomers are older, wiser, and just as numerous as before. As seniors, they have more credibility than they did when they wore headbands and tie-dyed tees. They will be giants in the progressive movement!

--Jim Lane


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