View the H-Diplo Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-Diplo's November 2004 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-Diplo's November 2004 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-Diplo home page.
For what it is worth, as someone born in 1954 in the US (my father fought in the Australian Navy in the Pacific in WW II), I can give direct if anecdotal support to Sally's statements. I was very involved in various aspects of the anti-war movement from 1967 on. It appeared to me at the time that there were at least three generational cohorts involved---I thought of them as Elvis people, Pete Seger people, and Beatles people. Elvis people were elder statesmen in the anti-war movement, with roots in the struggle against McCarthyism. This group was most likely to have also red-diaper/communist roots. Pete Seger/ur-folkies were all about the early civil rights movement (the Luncheonette period and Martin)---these people had little to do with communism (Bayard Rustin's ACP period from 1936-41 notwithstanding)---they always struck me as more like socialist kibbutzniks than anything else. In fact, I would say that their utopian socialist (rather than communist) views fueled a lot of the commune/close to the Earth living that evolved at that time. The Beatles/rock & roll folks got their start with the anti-war movement itself, and had even less connection than the Segerites to any organized left-wing political formation. "I want to hold your hand" was released in late '63, so this is consistent with Sally's dating of the cohort. This cohort also had a relationship with the Civil Rights movement, but with the Watts Riot era---the Panthers rather than SNCC, in other words. At the time, Angela Davis' explicit communism stood out very oddly not only within the Black Power movement but within the anti-war movement as well. I might even claim to be part of a fourth cohort---I was not quite old enough to fully enjoy the summer of love, and was quite young when I started my anti-war career with the first Moratorium petition. By the time I graduated from high school in 1972, things had move well beyond the real peak of the anti-war movement---we were past the Kent State shootings and it was clear that Nixon would stay in the war, even in its Vietnamized form, until he was good and ready to exit, regardless of how he had been elected. Finally, as a consumer of New Left verbiage for some years during the 70's and 80's, I would say that while SDS was part of the "worldwide 'new left' phenomenon" (as David Horowitz has it), that phenomenon grew out of the French and European situation in 1968 (e.g. in Paris), which itself arose from many streams on the left more or less well removed from Stalinism and reaction to it. Even if we stipulate the ultimate connection of much of Western communist and closely related thought since the early 50's to anti-Stalinism, manifestations of communism in the US have always been somewhat bizarre and attenuated, hardly a fundamental engine for the anti-war movement and groups like SDS. Lindsay Gillies firstname.lastname@example.org David Horowitz wrote: This is poor history. SDS came out of the Communist left (not the Civil Rights movement or the "dyanmics of the late fifties," and was part of the worldwide "new left" phenomenon, which was activists from the Communist movement disillusioned with the Communist Party and Stalinism who wanted to revive the revolutionary cause. I have written about this extensively in Radical Son and Left Illusions and do not need to reiterate the facts, but those curious about them can refer to my writings. _________________ Sally Todd replied (in part): I think David Horowitz's analysis is substantially contradicted by the "Social Origins" sociological research regarding the family and intellectual origins of activists in student movements in the US between the late 1950's and the mid 1970's. [...] It is particularly critical one discriminate between which wave of activists one is describing, because the 1960's generation bridges several very different generational cohorts. The founding wave of both SDS students and the actual organizers of SNCC were "baby busters" -- born before World War II, and in many instances their childhoods were a function of late depression era and wartime realities. This cohort was in college during the late 50's, and just graduating during the SDS founding period, 1960-62, and SNCC's most critical period -- 1960 - 1964. The first wave of the "Baby Boom" generation came to campuses beginning in 1963. [...] the post 1963 student cohort with quite different life experiences, inherited their groundwork but quickly evolved cultural and organizational changes that have come to dominate perceptions about the whole 1960's generation.