Of Lenin and latecomers

Lenin for lawyers

The 50-year-old San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild has long worked with local politicians to formulate legislation on issues from South Africa sanctions to rent control, but has always stopped short of endorsing candidates. Two recent events — the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign and Supervisor Harry Britt’s run for Congress — have prompted some members to suggest a policy change. The group’s latest newsletter includes a fascinating pro-and-con debate.

Doris Walker argues against endorsements, pointing to Britt’s divergence with the Guild over support for the PLO. But the choicest bit of writing is contained in a pro-endorsement argument by Thomas Steel, Nancy Clarence and Brian McAffrey: “A live and vibrant organization dealing with issues that matter will have disagreements. If we’re dead or irrelevant, we can avoid disagreement….

The idea that participation in electoral politics would “compromise’ a leftist organization was rejected by no less than Lenin himself 70 years ago. Indeed, he characterized this perspective as “an infantile disorder’ in his famous polemic, Left Wing Communism — An Infantile Disorder….

Lenin [said]: “While you lack the strength to do away with the bourgeois parliments and every other type of reactionary institution, you must work within them because it is there you will still find workers who are duped….

Otherwise you risk turning into windbags.’

“For lawyers, the risk of turning into “nothing but windbags’ is something of an occupational hazard, while infantile disorders are not exactly unprecedented. We should avoid these mistakes and take part in legislative and electoral reforms along with the communities in which we live.”

The Guild will hold a membership meeting to vote on the issue September 16th. Info.: 285-5066.

Mayoral alternatives

In San Francisco, politics has always been too important to leave to the politicians. So it comes as no surprise that a popular local comedian and a flamboyant newspaper columnist have joined nightclub owner Cesar Ascarrunz in the ranks of contenders who hope to start their political careers at the top. Examiner columnist Warren Hinckle symbolically swept the steps of City Hall Friday and submitted a letter of intent to the registrar of voters signifying his official entry into the mayor’s race. Hinckle has impeccable credentials as a Party Loyalist, but based on his record as a magazine editor, we’d hesitate to let him near the city treasury.

Political satirist Will “Vote for me or don’t” Durst, claiming he is “as incapable of doing the job as any other candidate,” has also filed a letter of intent and plans a rousing campaign kick-off at a Julia Morgan Theatre show in Berkeley Aug. 23rd. Durst told the Bay Guardian he is serious about the candidacy and hopes to “pimp the process” to show people the other candidates never say anything of substance. But he added he doesn’t expect to win and is proceeding “with tongue firmly planted in cheek.” Durst says his campaign proposals include turning Broadway, with its boarded-up sex clubs, into a city-subsidized entertainment district and returning Fisherman’s Wharf to those who fish. Was that supposed to be funny? For more information on Durst’s campaign opener, call the Julia Morgan Theatre at 548-2687.

AIDS quilt

NAMES Project organizers have proclaimed Aug. 17th-24th Aid Quilt Week, and are asking people to form quilting bees to make panels bearing the name of someone lost to AIDS. The 3-by-6 foot panels will be sewn into a massive memorial quilt to be displayed at the Capital Mall in Washington, D.C. Oct. 11th, in conjunction with the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Completed panels must be sent before Sept. 15th to NAMES Project, PO Box 14573, SF 94114. Info.: 626-5725.

SFRG grows

After eight years of battling Manhattanization on its own, San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth has decided to offer public membership. The nonprofit, 13-member citizens board, a major force in the Prop M victory last fall and a successful defender of the measure in court, plans a public outreach campaign on such upcoming issues as Mission Bay, the 101 corridor and regional transit development. A $25 annual basic fee ($100 supporting membership) will entitle members to a quarterly report analyzing urban environmental issues. President Alan Raznick told the Bay Guardian, “New members should provide a solid base for us to disseminate information. We’re building on our past strengths.” For information, contact Alan Raznick or Esther Marks at 870 Market, Room 1119, SF 94102, or call 392-6760.

Short takes:

Sunday/2ndAttendance at the July 12th screening of Iran/Contra: The Story Behind the Scandal, the Christic Institute video about a secret team in the intelligence community and its operations from Cuba to Vietnam to Nicaragua, was so great the Democratic Socialists of America scheduled additional screenings that will also include a second video in which Christic’s lead attorney, Daniel Sheehan, analyzes recent related developments in Washington. 4:30 pm, Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF. $2 Info.: 552-1250….

Tuesday/4th — Katya Komisaruk, who damaged a computer at Vandenberg Air Force Base to protest weapons testing, will speak at a War Resisters League/West potluck that will include a discussion of demonstration tactics. 7:00 pm, 942 Market,

701, SF. 433-6676….

Wednesday/5th — Participants at a conference organized by the Center for Third World Organizing will discuss how toxic pollutants disproportionately affect minorities. 8:30 am-4:30 pm, St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Grand at Montecito, Oakl. $10-$15. Info.: 654-9601.