My Favorite Issue: WIN’S Tenth Anniversary, 1976

WIN’S Tenth Anniversary, 1976

To celebrate its tenth anniversary in 1976, WIN re-published a range of articles from its earliest years. Editor Mark (now Markley) Morris chose to focus mostly on the first two years both for space considerations and to represent the beginnings of both the magazine itself and the peace movement it represented.

Included are many reviews of demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Coverage of a 1966 U.N. vigil and Times Square sit-down and of the 1967 “Siege of the Pentagon” protest follow the same multi-voiced format of participants writing briefly about their experiences. Draft resistance pieces feature dumping excrement into draft board file cases, eating a draft card, and a resister’s day in court. The Bread & Puppet political theater troupe is extolled for its effectiveness at demonstra- tions. A 1967 essay on how the October 22, 1966, “Yellow Submarine” demonstration was conceived points out that it was one of the first designed to be fun rather than glum. A 12- foot wood and canvas vessel was carried joyfully across New York City and launched in the Hudson River. Participants sang, danced, played instruments, and passed out flowers to show what we were for, not just what we were against.

The issue includes both a speech given by peace move- ment leader A. J. Muste at a demonstration in Saigon in April 1966, and sadly, commemorations on his death in February 1967. There’s a 1967 letter from folk giant Pete Seeger saying how much he loves WIN—and more.

But I’d like to switch now to some of the issues covered during the rest of the ten years. (My brief overview will omit the names of our many wonderful unpaid contributors so that no one can complain about being left out.)

Without dropping coverage of demonstrations, resistance, and political analysis, the magazine began to branch into considering the necessity of improving our own lives and values as a way of improving society and ending wars, racism, and injustice. The coverage of the assassination in 1968 of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. calls on whites to continue his work by dealing nonviolently with the institutional forces of racial oppression—an ongoing concern of the peace movement, if not one of its noticeable successes.

The January 1, 1969, issue focused on alternatives—mostly communes of many sorts. The August 1969 issue was on ecol- ogy, expanding WIN’s focus from improving our institutions and ourselves to protecting the world we live in.

The magazine had an early issue on Gay Liberation on November 15, 1969. And although women’s concerns had been written about earlier, it wasn’t until January 1, 1970, that an issue was devoted to the Women’s Liberation Movement. One article pointed out, “There are not male supremacist ‘attitudes.’ We live in a sexist system!” Remedies proposed included women talking to women, women working with women—in feminist, lesbian, and antiwar groups—and women doing what they themselves felt was right. Many more articles on both gay rights and feminism would appear in the following years.

WIN’s coverage of lifestyles included a feature titled “Rock and Revolution” as well as articles on food, cooking, child- rearing, schools. There were comics, cartoons, and photographs and coverage of concerts and theater. A 1972 issue had a recording tipped in of songs by poet-publisher-rock band leader Ed Sanders. And of course wars and the many, many demonstrations in protest against them, including draft board break-ins and file burnings, were covered. All of this earned us the sobriquet “the liveliest publication on the left” from Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff.

In 1971 we moved WIN from offices at the Lafayette Street “Peace Pentagon” in New York City to a commune in Rifton, New York. (How we managed to put out a magazine in the country was described in our 200th issue, May 10, 1974.) On May 15, 1971, we published the Vietnam diary of Sgt. Bruce Anello, who had been killed in action May 31, 1968. It is as well written as anything on the subject and is heartbreaking in its similarity to accounts from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In March 1972 we published the complete collection of political documents stolen by a group of peace activists from the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, a year earlier, on March 8, 1971. Several newspapers had published selected docu- ments the group sent to them, revealing that the bureau had spent much of its effort infiltrating antiwar activists and Black student groups in order to stifle dissent and enhance “the paranoia endemic in these circles.” WIN, however, received and published all the political files, answering a Justice Department official’s claim that the files reported in the press were taken out of context.

The November 1, 1972, issue focused on the “Pentagon Papers,” the massive collection of documents leaked to the press by former Department of Defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg, with interviews with Dan and his wife Pat. In 1973 there were many articles on activist-priests Dan and Phil Berrigan, and on April 5 of that year we switched from a twice-monthly to a weekly schedule to get speedier postal delivery. On April 11, 1974, we published a special issue on men, focusing on the role of feminism in the lives of straight men. The June 27, 1974, issue was on fighting against nuclear power plants. And on December 19, 1974, we published a special issue on money (always a hard subject to talk about).

1975 saw more reports from other countries, issues on “Women 1975,” lesbian culture, anarchism, and the WRL- initiated Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice, and of course the same year saw the end—finally—of the Vietnam War, something we all thought would have happened many years before and the reason we started WIN in the first place.

So much to cover and so much I’ve left out (including the last year)! I see now why Markley chose to stick to the first few years. I hope you enjoyed this walk through WIN and will seek out these early issues. They are well worth it.

Susan Kent Cakars

Susan Kent Cakars wrote, edited, kept books, and helped with whatever was needed to keep WIN afloat for eight of its first ten years.