What EMMETT GROGAN said at the Dialectics of Liberation conference (London, July 22, 1967)

Emmett Grogan claims in Ringolevio that he gave a speech at the at the infamous Dialectics of Liberation conference that went over very well with the lefty intellectual/counterculture audience — and then reveals that the speech was actually a verbatim recital of an Adolf Hitler speech. Okay, Grogan makes his point about the dangers of charisma, gullibility, hierarchy, etc.

That may well have happened, but we don’t have any evidence for it outside of Grogan’s own account in Ringolevio, and Grogan is a known fabricator of poetic truths.

However, as Grogan also writes in Ringolevio, he had already made one other appearance at the conference on the previous day, in a panel discussion with Allen Ginsberg and Stokely Carmichael. What follows is a partial transcript of what one presumes was Grogan’s opening statement for that conversation. This transcript was supplied to me in 2010 by documentarian Peter Davis, who filmed the event for a BBC film. Unfortunately there is only a bit of footage for some Grogan’s statement, starting here at the 16:17 mark:

(Further footage of Grogan is available at the opening of this 13-minute video compilation of excerpts from the event. These remarks aren’t reflected in the transcript.)

Here’s the transcript text that Peter Davis sent to me.

Note the closing line.

Emmett Grogan – Dialectics of Liberation 22 July 1967

Black people all over the world are discovering their humanity through their blackness. Children all over the world who are not black skinned are discovering their humanity through their madness. The white world as it is structured, systemized and stands is an unnatural myth. The black people are revolting within themselves against this myth. The children who are not making themselves available for employment or degrees or publishers are also revolting against this myth. And each of these peoples is discovering a power—that power is autonomy. To stand on a street corner and wait for no one is powerful.

These children are evolving from every single suburb: liberal and fascist and Bircher and conservative and radical homes—and are leaving. The language in these homes has always been, will always be too functional, They cannot understand anything, nothing means anything. If the change we are all talking about in the dialectics were to come about most of the people in this room right now would not understand that change and would die. Concepts that have evolved with the evolution of this mad race of young people have been interpreted on every level imaginable—political. philosophical, psychological. There’s only one level, there’s no higher or lower level, there’s only one level, and that’s the level of each man’s natural humanity. A man is one to one with himself or he’s not one to one with anything else. And the black people are lucky because they’re black. They can recognize their brothers in the streets—a black man sees a black man, he’s a black man. A child cannot recognize another child because there’s no age limit on this thing. So they formed all these different appearances—long hair, colored clothes—but they treat them as they should be treated, as fads. They come and go, different styles every week. But the new reason and the new sense of brotherhood is coming closer to being understandable.

In America these children, for the first time in their lives, come out of these wounded homes and go out on the street. On the street they meet the people. Who lives on the street? Marxists and radical politicians call the street people the proletariat. On the street, like Stokely Carmichael calls them, black people. On the street, gypsies call them gypsies. On the street, hell’s angels call them hell’s angels. They’re all people. They’re all strange people, because they have nothing to do with whatever anybody says about them, except now. Now the black people are doing It. Now the children of the western world are doing It. And everybody’s trying to interpret It. It can’t be done. Only the people will do It and they will never tell anyone what it means. 

Spontaneity, autonomy, seem to be a new type of humanity that’s or coming about, and today is the first day in the rest of your lives.

One thought on “What EMMETT GROGAN said at the Dialectics of Liberation conference (London, July 22, 1967)

  1. I love this Jay ! It’s taking me a while to get to it with the kind of attention it deserves. Thank you for creating a vehicle for viewing our history

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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