Bill Ayers, like other members of the New Left in the United States, forged many of their views in reaction to the 'old left,' who they perceived as more talk than action. Ayers view of militancy, as he expressed it in the 1960s, reflected this -- for him, militancy was a way of being active in the world.
You had a responsibility to link your conduct to your consciousness …If you believes something, the proof of that belief was to act on it. It wasn’t to espouse it with the right treatises or manifestos. We were militants. That’s what we were. We were militants before we were thinkers … Militancy is a stance in the world, a way of being in the world that says that I’m going to put my body somehow in the way of the normal functioning of things, and I’m going to take the consequences of having doen that. The statement is my body standing in the way, and once that statement is made, you open up a public space where lots of people have to think and act differently… militancy was the standard by which we measured our aliveness. (Quoted in Jeremy Varon’sBringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies )