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Biography: Douglas Hainline

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My name is Douglas Hainline and I am an American living in the UK, near Guildford.

I was raised up in Houston Texas in the 1950s, by liberal parents in a conservative city in conservative times. I became active in the Civil Rights movement as soon as the first sit-ins started in Houston, and was actively involved in it for the whole of the 60s, including doing voter registration work in the South during Freedom Summer (1964). My experiences led me to the conclusion that the problems with American society were far deeper than the denial of civil rights to Black people, and I became a Marxist early on. I was also very involved in the opposition to the war in Vietnam. I was a member of SDS and watched that organization self-destruct due to in-fighting.

When I graduated university in 1967 (Cornell, majoring in History) I was drafted, despite my professed support for the military victory of the other side. Trained as a combat infantryman, I deserted on the way to Vietnam and remained in hiding for 18 months. I eventually turned myself in and was tried and convicted of being Absent Without Leave, a lesser charge than desertion, resulting in a sentence of six months at hard labor. When I finished my sentence I was in the Army for a few more months, then thrown out with a Bad Conduct Discharge. I am barred from re-enlistment.

I came to Britain in 1976. I left my communist organization in 1980. I have since rethought my original political beliefs, which I do not, however, find entirely without value. I read a lot and try to approach each new problem and development with an open mind.

I hope to see the spread of liberal democracy throughout the world. I would like to live long enough [but probably will not] to see the first Muslim President of the United States. (And if she's gay it wouldn't bother me a bit.)

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