Another excerpt in the serialization of Parts One and Two of the memoir Remembering Tomorrow by Michael Albert, this time chapter 5, distributed in this 40th year since the New Left and May 68.
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
Til I’m sure that you’re dead.
MIT is one of the most famous and prominent institutions of higher learning in the world. Famous people come and go. The major MIT auditorium, Kresge, where the Living Theatre performed, was also for me the scene of a far more personally demanding experience. I had been elected president of the MIT student body and Hubert Humphrey, Vice President of the
Before the debate I was alone in a room behind the Kresge stage. Humphrey, with his impeccable liberal credentials, was in another room, probably with his bodyguards and aides-de-camp, also behind the Kresge stage. This wasn’t Ali versus Frasier, but still I sat in a chair with my hands grasping the arms feeling like they were digging into the wood. I don’t know what to call the emotions I felt. Fury, fear, rage, catatonia. It was a little bit of everything. The Hump was probably next door having a drink.
I often speak publicly nowadays, sometimes to ten, fifty, or a hundred people, sometimes to a few thousand. I always feel a little squeamish before starting a talk, though after I start the nervousness and stage fright quickly recede. But for the Humphrey debate I was completely wired and scared silly. I had prepared by researching a bunch of case-study examples of international events and conditions, choosing them to rebut anything that Humphrey might bring up while we debated. So I had lots of facts and connections about
I was dumbfounded. I could not understand how the vice president of the
With his businesslike anger and his bloodhounds that kneel
If he needs a third eye he just grows it.
On another occasion, I encountered in the main hallway of MIT James Killian, who was not only chairman of the MIT Board of Overseers but also director of the Ford Motor Company and of numerous other Fortune 500 corporations. Killian was a living, breathing, ruling-class actor who played starring roles in the long-running drama “Empires Are Us.”
Humphrey played at vice president. Killian was full of vice and was also a president. In just a few minutes of chatting with Killian I was chilled to the bone. It wasn’t his words—it was that this guy was the Bold Marauder. Killian seemed to me violent, amoral, and pathological, but also competent. He was like Hannibal Lector. Perhaps it was an artifact of the preconceptions of capitalists that I carried in my own mind, but while I saw civility in Killian, I didn’t see a soul. What I decided is that there are people up top who lack moral character and have sufficient amoral mind to get hierarchy’s dirty jobs done. I realized they were more present at the heights of corporate rule than at the heights of political rule because if you didn’t have a quick mind plus steel nerves plus uncaring blood in the corporate world, you lost. In corporate institutions, more or less equally armed people struggle for market share and pathology triumphs. In the political