This is actually the third time around for MEETING GROUND. It first began in January 1977 with Carol Hanisch as editor and Barbara Leon as consulting editor, and ended in March 1982. We tried again between 1989-1991 with the advent of desktop publishing, but radical feminism and other radical movements became too weak to make keeping on possible. Carol had continued as editor, Kathy Scarbrough was Associate Editor, and Barbara Leon and Lavonne Lela were advisors.
With this on-line revival, the method of communication has changed immensely—no more clumsy typewriter corrections, delivery to the printer, hand addressing and trips to and from the post office. Using the internet is in some ways less labor intensive and certainly faster, though technically more difficult. Also, although we had some international participation throughout its existence, those possibilities, at least among English speakers, are greater than ever.
MEETING GROUND continues to be an all-volunteer, grassroots effort. We are feeling our way in trying to be as broad as possible while maintaining enough control to keep on track and secure.
The following editorial, which states our purpose, appeared in the first issue of MEETING GROUND dated January 1977. We’ve learned a lot since then, but it will give an idea of where we’ve been and some general analysis. Although much has changed, including our method of communication, the downward spiral of our political situation 36 years ago has only gotten “more so” with the planet itself in danger from capitalism.
Carol Hanisch, Founding Editor
Kathy Scarbrough, Editor
JANUARY 1977, Number 1
The purpose of MEETING GROUND is to provide an ongoing place to hammer out ideas about theory, strategy and tactics for the women’s liberation movement and for the general radical movement of working men and women.
As letters began coming in to Redstockings after the publication of FEMINIST REVOLUTION, it became apparent that there are women and a few men scattered throughout the country—and in several other countries as well—who are thinking and working, often in isolation, along the same general political lines expressed in FEMINIST REVOLUTION. Still others have been sparked into thought and action by it.
MEETING GROUND will be a place where we can talk to each other, sharing ideas and raising each other’s consciousness for theory and action.
In the 1960s it was much easier to do person to person than it is now. It was much less expensive for organizers to get around and talk to each other. Jobs were more plentiful and the cost of living was lower, which gave people greater freedom in how much and when they worked to support themselves, and in some cases contributions from supporters allowed organizers a much-needed freedom in their work. People were in action on every front and there was a spirit of hope and life.
The 1970s are a whole different kettle of fish. Inflation is not the only problem. Many people are disillusioned, defeated, demoralized, and deluded and deactivated in a dozen different ways, Throughout the country—including in what is left of the radical movement—there is a note of the same deadness that came with McCarthyism with nothing or no one so obvious and crass as HUAC, McCarthy and the blackIisters to pin it on, Given this, there is a need for those people still active or newly active to somehow get together and analyze what has happened and what is happening and to find a way to get a mass, radical movement moving again.
Though its roots are obviously in the women’s liberation movement, MEETING GROUND will not be limited to the issues involved directly in women’s liberation. This decision is based on the belief that
1) women’s liberation needs a strong working people’s movement going on at the same time in order for the women’s liberation movement to continue to make progress, Radical women have a lot to say about that movement or the current lack of it and a stake in seeing it built;
2) it is necessary to bring together the theory and practice the women’ s liberation movement and the general radical movement for the liberation of all working people in a genuine way—from the actual experience of the movements—not the co-optive way in which the socialist-feminists and variations thereof have tried to slurp the women’s liberation movement into the left. This step should not be taken to mean that either the fact or the principle of women’ s liberation as a separate and independent movement is being or should be abandoned. It does means that the women’s liberation movement has reached a point where it must exert more leadership in the general working people’s movement, both in demanding its rightful place in it and in infusing it with the important knowledge and skills women’s liberationists have gained from several years of intense struggle (which the existing left in the U. S. continues to ignore and/or suppress). MEETING GROUND is one way to do this.
As MEETING GROUND recognizes the crucial need to constantly assess the past in order to move ahead, articles by people analyzing their organizing experiences in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s in light of the present would be most welcome, The McCarthy era did a job of cutting today’s radical activists off from the historical experience of those who did radical work in previous decades. Of particular interest, of course, is “the woman question” and the left.
The pages of MEETING GROUND are open to all who have something to say that is in keeping with its general purpose and principles. The principles are generally those expressed in FEMINIST REVOLUTION (At some point they must be written up, but that takes time and for now people who read the book will have a good idea of what they are.)
MEETING GROUND will try to print everything it receives that contains new ideas that advance our theory, strategy, and/or tactics. Sometimes advancing means an “old” idea expressed in a clearer way or re-examined in light of the present or used to clarify the present. Whether a contribution meets the criteria will be determined by the editors with help from the consulting editor(s) who may be different people for each issue. The only criteria for style will be honesty and clarity. Usually this comes from simple naturalness and straightforwardness.
In addition to articles (or “open letters” might be a more accurate wording since MEETING GROUND should be looked on more as an exchange than as a newsletter or journal), it will carry quotes, information, reading suggestions, book/record/movie/TV reviews, cartoons, artwork, songs—anything useful to our purpose.
In the beginning, at least, MEETING GROUND will come out as often as it has enough material to make a printing and mailing worthwhile, hopefully at least bi-monthly. This first issue is mostly to let your know of its existence and to invite your participation.