The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The 1968 Democratic National Convention

Aug 25, 2008

The two Conventions–Democratic and Republican–will take place almost exactly forty years after the 1968 Democratic Convention, which was strongly marked by the war in Viet Nam.

In April 1968, the U.S. had been rocked by massive uprisings in more than 100 cities following the assassination of Martin Luther King. The year 1968 also saw an escalation of the war in Viet Nam and the massive protests in cities throughout the U.S.

When anti-war groups asked for permits to demonstrate in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, Chicago police officials locked down the city, refusing to allow any protests whatsoever. When opponents of the war demonstrated anyway, the police violently attacked, injuring hundreds, arresting thousands.

It was a virtual war in the streets of Chicago, carried out by heavily armed police, attempting to stifle all protest against the war.

But the massive and bloody police intervention could not keep the war from influencing the elections that year. The Democratic Party, which had pursued the war, lost the presidency.

Richard Nixon was elected on the basis of his “plan to end the war.” But he showed that his only plan was to step it up, extending the war in Viet Nam further into Laos and Cambodia. He also soon engaged his administration in the corruption running rampant through the repressive U.S. state apparatus. Spying, assassination and drug dealing–nothing was out of bounds in the U.S. effort to defend and fund its wars in South East Asia and Latin America. And little, apparently, was out of bounds for Nixon.

There may not be the same level of protests this year at the conventions, but that doesn’t mean that history–in somewhat modified form–won’t repeat itself.