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	What was Mathematicians Action Group?
	Short answer: A bunch of mathematicians, mostly
young, mostly radical, active against the Vietnam War,
against sexism, racism, elitism within the profession.
	Long answer..... It really starts with some
collective actions by some of the same people, before
MAG pulled itself together and gave itself a name.  In
1965-68, having failed to get a protest against military
funding of mathematics accepted as a Letter to the
newsletter of the American Mathematical Society, a few
of us gathered signatures to run the statement as a
paid ad.  Big success, hundreds of signatures.  In
1966-67, we gathered signatures on an international
statement against the war.  This was exciting to those
of us who had the international contacts, and it was
cheering that one of the leaders was a very well-known
mathematician, Laurent Schwartz of France.  Again, a
big success, hundreds of signatures in the US, many
thousands world-wide-- even from the Soviet bloc, though
some there were afraid to sign a non-official political
statement, and some were not against the war (!-- out of
naive faith that whatever the Kremlin said was bad must
surely be good).
	In 1968, at the initiative of Steve Smale & Mel
Rothenberg, a hundred or so mathematicians en route to
a midwestern AMS meeting seized the opportunity to
demonstrate outside the Democratic Party convention in
Chicago.  We did not get beaten or gassed by the Chi
police, but, as you may recall, many other demonstrators
under various banners did.  It was widely felt that the
city government of Chicago bore heavy responsibility
for the violence.
	That winter, at the national AMS meeting, a
well-organized floor fight led by Lee Lorch succeeded
in passing a motion that the upcoming next national
meeting of the Society, scheduled for Chicago, should
be rescheduled elsewhere, in protest of Mayor Daley's
police riot.  This was the point at which the loose
conspiracy of left activists chose the name MAG and
began trying to exist continuously rather than merely
one campaign at a time.  But, influenced by ideology of
participatory democracy, we never had responsible
officers, let alone an office.  After the first year or
so, our continuous structure consisted entirely of a
telephone tree, with me as the center, and a newsletter
edited & produced by a very few faithful drudges (some
of the time that was me too).  Incredible.
	Yet we had floor fights for worthy causes at
AMS meetings, petitions in support of political
prisoners, well-attended open forums on issues like
making mathematics serve the people, and overcoming
elitist exclusion of ....[you name it].  Our internal
strife was painful, but nowhere near as bad as in some
left movements I can think of.  When the International
Congress of Mathematicians was held in Vancouver in
summer 1974, two delegates from DRVN were there, their
expenses paid by a collection we had taken up!  (One
contributor, Joan Hutchinson, made her contribution
conditional on a delegate being a woman.  It happened.
North Vietnam did have a strong woman research mathe-
matician, a wonderful person, and it was arranged that
she was one of the delegates.)  From 1973, we pushed
the AMS to protest the imprisonment of a leading
Uruguayan mathematician by the military dictatorship.
	After 1976 MAG ran out of steam.  Needed a war
to charge its batteries?  Or was it just that some of
our objectives were won?  No simple answer.  The AMS
had been changed: political letters to the Notices were
and remain a normal thing; it is taken for granted that
contentious issues are sometimes debated at business
meetings or in special sessions at meetings (we felt
let down when this was routinized); an Academic Freedom
Committee and a Committee on Human Rights of
Mathematicians were set up within the AMS, and after a
few years some of us were tolerated as members of them--
even on the Council of the Society.  When the AMS Council
got around to passing a resolution against the war --it
was against the Christmas bombing of Hanoi in late 1973
--it was not our doing, but surely our agitation had
been a needed precursor before such an action became
thinkable.
	Other lasting contributions: The organization of
& for Black mathematicians, the National Association of
Mathematicians, was not an outgrowth of MAG, but it was
a friendly associate, with many common members; it
continues healthy today.  The Association for Women in
Mathematics grew directly out of MAG, and its inspiring
founder and first President, Mary Gray, was also a
leader of MAG; AWM is a thoroughly accepted pillar of
the establishment today, and if it is not as radical as
it was, I guess that's mostly because there's no need
that it should be.
	Yet the military budgets kept growing & growing,
mathematicians kept pouring their scientific smarts into
the war industry.  Many's the time I've felt, Where is
MAG now when we really need it?  The largest employer of
mathematicians is the National Security Agency.  AMS
employees still arrange meetings for mathematicians to
pitch their services to Washington agencies.  In early
1988, after much agitation in MAG-like mode, we got the
AMS to hold a referendum on two motions: one calling for
reducing the military component in funding of mathematics
and one calling for no cooperation with the Strategic
Defense Initiative at all.  Voting rate was unusually
high, and both motions passed by large margins.  Action
by the AMS officers and staff to implement them was nil!
That called for a vigorous, visible insistence by the AMS
members that their will be carried out.  We were still on
the scene, most of us, and angry; yet we mounted no
revolt against the AMS's collusion.  Why had our militant
spirit of the 1960s deserted us?  It had better revive.
				Chandler Davis