The origins of the Weathermen can be traced to the collapse and fragmentation of the Students for a Democratic Society. The split between the mainstream leadership of SDS, or "National Office," and the Progressive Labor Party pushed SDS as a whole further to the left. National Office leaders such as Bernardine Dohrn and Mike Klonsky began announcing their emerging perspectives, and Klonksy published a document entitled "Toward a Revolutionary Youth Movement" (RYM). RYM promoted the philosophy that young workers possessed the potential to be a revolutionary force to overthrow capitalism, if not by themselves then by transmitting radical ideas to the working class.
Mike Klonsky joined the MDS board in 2006. Klonskys father Robert, was a leading activist in the CPUSA. In 1968 Mike Klonsky was the national secretary of SDS and in May 1969 was one of five SDS members arrested when police raided SDS offices in Chicago.
In late 1969, Klonsky founded the October League, a pro-Mao communist organisation which in 1977 became the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist (CP-ML). Klonsky chaired the CP-ML which was recognised by the Chinese Communist Party as their US fraternal party. Klonsky made several trips to China beginning in July 1977, where he was feted by Communist Chinese officials.