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Home | Library | The New Left Was Great (Before It Collapsed)

The New Left Was Great (Before It Collapsed)

December 14, 2007

Tags U.S. HistoryOther Schools of ThoughtPolitical Theory

[This article is excerpted from the final chapter of The Betrayal of the American Right, now available in the bookstore.]

For years now, Leonard Liggio and I had been looking for a "left," for an antiwar movement, with which we could ally ourselves. Then suddenly, as if by magic, the New Left emerged in American life, particularly in two great events: the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (FSM) of the fall of 1964, which inaugurated the campus movement of the 1960s; and the March on Washington of April 17, 1965, organized by the Students for a Democratic Society to protest the dramatic escalation of our war in Vietnam in February.

The SDS march inaugurated the great anti–Vietnam War movement, which undoubtedly constituted the deepest and most widespread opposition in the midst of war since the conflict with Mexico in the 1840s. The opposition during World War I was strong, but isolated and brutally suppressed by the government; the isolationist movement of World War II collapsed completely as soon as we entered the war; and the Korean War never generated a powerful mass opposition. But here at last was an exciting, massive opposition to the war proceeding during the war itself!

Another point that cheered Leonard and myself was that here at last was not a namby-pamby "peace" group like SANE, which always carefully balanced its criticism of the United States and of Russia, and which also took pains to exclude "undesirables" from antiwar activity; here was a truly antiwar movement which zeroed in on the evils of American war making; and here was a movement that excluded no one, that baited neither reds nor rightists, that welcomed all Americans willing to join in struggle against the immoral and aggressive war that we were waging in Vietnam. Here at last was an antiwar Left that we could be happy about!

It is true that SDS, the unquestioned leader of this new antiwar movement, had been born in unfortunate circumstances; for it was originally and was then still officially the student arm of the social democratic League for Industrial Democracy, an old-line socialist and red-baiting organization that represented the worst of Old Left liberalism. But SDS was clearly in the process of breaking with its parentage. Not only was it militant on the war, but it was also no longer doctrinaire socialist — a pleasant change indeed from the Old Left. On the contrary, its ideology was vague enough to encompass even "right-wing libertarians." In fact, there was a good deal of instinctive libertarian sentiment in that early SDS which was to intensify for the next several years. There was a new hunger for individual freedom, for self-development, and a new concern about bureaucracy and technocratic statism that boded well for SDS's future.

Thus, SDS was shaping up as instinctively quasi-libertarian even on "domestic" issues. This libertarianism was reinforced by the campus movement generated by the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. For hadn't conservatives and libertarians for decades been bitterly critical of our state-ridden educational system — its public schools, compulsory attendance laws, and giant, impersonal bureaucratic training factories replacing genuine education? Hadn't we long been critical of the influence of John Dewey, the emphasis on vocational training, the giant tie-ins of education with government and the military-industrial complex?

Paul Goodman (1911–1972)

And here was the New Left which, while admittedly inchoate and lacking a constructive theory, was at least arising to zero in on many of the educational evils that we had been denouncing unheeded for over a generation. If, for example, we take a New Left hero such as Paul Goodman and compare him with Albert Jay Nock on education, we see that from very different philosophical and cultural perspectives they were making very similar critiques of the mass training public school-compulsory attendance system. Without making light of the philosophical differences — particularly individualistic versus egalitarian underpinnings — both Goodman and Nock clearly attacked the problem from a libertarian perspective.

It was therefore not an accident that a newly developing "rightwing libertarian" group at Berkeley, headed by the young graduate math student Danny Rosenthal, should have helped lead the Free Speech and allied movements. Rosenthal and his group, who founded the Alliance of Libertarian Activists in the Berkeley-San Francisco area and were also ardent Goldwaterites, fought alongside the New Left on behalf of freedom of speech and assembly, and in opposition to censorship and to the swollen bureaucratic establishment at Berkeley. Rosenthal also exerted considerable influence on the views of Mario Savio, the famous FSM leader, though Savio was of course also subject to socialistic influences and pressures.

The emergence of the New Left persuaded Leonard and me that the time had come to act, to break out of our ideological and political isolation. Hence we founded, in the spring of 1965, the three-times-a-year journal Left and Right. The purpose of founding L&R was twofold: to influence libertarians throughout the country to break with the right wing and to ally themselves with the emerging New Left and try to push that left further in a libertarian direction; and second, to "find" the New Left ourselves as a group to ally with and possibly influence.

The first issue of Left and Right had three lengthy articles which managed to touch all of the important bases of our new libertarian "line": my own article, "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty," which set forth the Liggio analysis of the Left/Right historical spectrum; Liggio's own "Why the Futile Crusade?" which brought back and portrayed the isolationist and anti-imperialist views of Senator Taft and the Taftite wing of the Republican Party; and Alan Milchman's review of Fleming's Origins of the Cold War which, for the first time, brought Cold War revisionism to a libertarian audience.

In the second issue, in autumn 1965, I wrote an article hailing the substantial libertarian elements of the New Left ("Liberty and the New Left"). I praised the New Left for taking up important libertarian and Old Right causes: opposition to bureaucracy and centralized government; enthusiasm for Thoreau and the idea of civil disobedience to unjust laws; a shift from Old Left compulsory racial integration to opposition to police brutality and what would soon be termed "black power" in black communities; opposition to urban renewal and to restrictive and monopolistic labor unionism; opposition to the Clark Kerr–type of modern educational bureaucracy; and of course the total opposition to the American War in Vietnam. In addition to comparing the educational views of Goodman and Nock, I also pointed to the hopeful sign of Goodman (in his People or Personnel)[1] favorably treating a free-market economy.

The impact of Left and Right was remarkable, considering our paucity of subscribers and the total absence of funds. For one thing, we immediately had considerable impact on conservative and libertarian youth. Danny Rosenthal was converted to an isolationist position by Liggio's article in the first issue; Wilson A. Clark, Jr., head of the Conservative Club of the University of North Carolina, abandoned conservatism for our position; and the entire YAF unit at the University of Kansas (the "second generation" of libertarians there), headed by Becky Glaser, left YAF to form an SDS chapter on that campus. And Ronald Hamowy, by then a professor of history at Stanford, expounded our new "Left-Right" position in the New Republic, recalling the free market, civil libertarian, isolationist and anti-imperialist position of Old Rightists Spencer, Bastiat, Sumner, and Nock, contrasting them to the New Right and the current partnership of government and big business, and lauding Paul Goodman and other aspects of libertarianism on the New Left.[2]

We were also interested in the new experiments which some of the New Left were conducting in alternative and "parallel institutions" in education, in particular the "Free University" movement which for a short while held promise as establishing "communities of scholars" free from the bureaucratic and Establishment trappings of the American educational system. Through Left and Right and through Leonard Liggio's teaching courses at the Free University of New York on imperialism, we had the opportunity of meeting the bright young William Appleman Williams students in the New York area, in particular Jim Weinstein, Ronald Radosh, and Marty Sklar.

This also launched Liggio's role for several years as a leading New Left scholar-activist, as Leonard's expertise in the history of foreign policy and of Vietnam led him to play a considerable part in the Vietnam Teach-In movement, in editing Leviathan, and Viet-Report, in becoming managing editor of the Guardian (from which he was purged for "taking the capitalist road" in trying to cut costs), and eventually in becoming head of the American branch of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and aiding its great work in the War Crimes Tribunal.

In those days, too, SDS, while totally opposed morally to the war in Vietnam, was not yet anti-imperialist; and Leonard played a major role in advising the May 2nd Movement, which pioneered on the New Left in advancing an anti-American-imperialist perspective, one which SDS soon came to adopt. He also led in opposing what turned out to be the domination of M-2-M by the Maoist Progressive Labor Movement, a domination which soon brought about the dissolution of the organization.

Meanwhile, Left and Right continued to present our "left-right" perspective, concentrating on foreign policy and militarism but also covering other libertarian areas, and presenting a left-right spectrum of authors: libertarians (the editors, philosophy professor "Eric Dalton," Larry Moss, reprints of Lysander Spooner and Herbert Spencer), Old Rightists and isolationists (Harry Elmer Barnes, Garet Garrett, William L. Neumann), leftists (Marvin Gettleman, Ronald Radosh, Janet McCloud, Russell Stetler, and Conrad Lynn), and free-market conservatives (Yale Brozen, Gordon Tullock). In particular, I hailed the decisive turn during 1966 of SDS toward an anti-imperialist and militantly antidraft position, and the final repudiation of its social democratic Old Guard. During 1966 and 1967, the libertarian elements of SDS grew in influence; there was a growth of the "Texas anarchists" in the organization, and a proliferation of buttons proclaiming "I Hate the State."[3]

Carl Oglesby

The high point of SDS and New Left interest in the "left-right" libertarian position came in the work of former SDS President Carl Oglesby. In 1967, Oglesby published Containment and Change, a critique of the Vietnam War and the American Empire. In his concluding pages on strategy, Oglesby called for an alliance with the Old Right. He called upon the libertarian, laissez-faire wing of the Right to abandon the conservative movement which held the libertarians in thrall by convincing them of the existence of a "foreign threat." Oglesby cited my article in Continuum, and quoted from the Old Right view on war and peace of General MacArthur, Buffett, Garrett, Chodorov, and Dean Russell. In particular, Oglesby cited Garrett at length, stating that his "analysis of the totalitarian impulse of imperialism" had been verified repeatedly over the intervening years.

Oglesby concluded that libertarian right-wing thought, along with the Black Power movement and the anti-imperialist student movement, were all "rootedly American" and were

of the grain of American humanist individualism and voluntaristic associational action; and it is only through them that the libertarian tradition is activated and kept alive. In a strong sense, the Old Right and the New Left are morally and politically coordinate.[4]

But Oglesby prophetically warned that both the libertarian Right and the New Left could miss out on this alliance and conjunction, for the former could remain in thrall to the militarism and imperialism of the right wing, while the latter could revert to a form of Stalinism.

The peak of my political activity on the New Left came during the 1968 campaign. In the spring of 1968, my old enthusiasm for third-party politics was rekindled, albeit in a different direction. The Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) which had become (and still is) established in California, decided to go national, and opened up shop in New York. I found that the preliminary platform and the only requirement for membership contained only two planks: the first was immediate US withdrawal from Vietnam, and the second was some plank so vague about being nice to everyone that almost anyone, left, right, center could have endorsed it. Great: here was a coalition party dedicated only to immediate withdrawal from Vietnam and requiring no commitment whatever to statism! As a result, our entire libertarian group in New York poured happily into the new party.

The PFP was structured around clubs, most of them regional — such as the powerful West Side (of Manhattan) club, the hippie Greenwich Village Club, etc. One was occupational — a Faculty Club. Since there were very few actual faculty members in this very youthful party, the PFP generously widened the definition of "faculty" to include graduate students. Lo and behold! On that basis, of approximately 24 members in the Faculty Club, almost exactly one-half were our people: libertarians, including myself, Leonard Liggio, Joe Peden, Walter Block and his wife, Sherryl, and Larry Moss. The legislative arm of the PFP was to be the Delegate Assembly, consisting of delegates from the various clubs. The Faculty Club was entitled to two delegates, and so we naturally divvied it up: one going to the socialists, and one to us, who turned out to be me.

At the first meeting of the Delegate Assembly, then, here I was, only in the party for about a week, but suddenly vaulted to top rank in the power elite. Then, early in the meeting, some people got up and advocated abolishing the Delegate Assembly as somehow "undemocratic." Jeez! I was just about to get a taste of juicy political power, when some SOBs were trying to take it away from me!

As I listened further, I realized that something even more sinister and of broader concern was taking place. Apparently, the New York party was being run by a self-perpetuating oligarchical executive committee, who, in the name of "democracy," were trying to eliminate all intermediate social institutions, and to operate upon the party mass unimpeded, all in the name of "democracy." To me it smacked of rotten Jacobinism, and I got up and delivered an impassioned speech to that effect. After the session ended, a few people came up to me and said that some like-minded thinkers, who constituted the West Side Club, were having a gathering to discuss these matters. So began our nefarious alliance with the Progressive Labor faction within Peace and Freedom.

Hal Draper (1914–1990)

It later turned out that the PFP and its executive committee were being run, both in California and in New York, by the Leninist-Trotskyite Draperites, international socialists run by Berkeley librarian Hal Draper. The Draperites were the original Schachtmanites, Trotskyites who had rebelled against Trotsky as Third Camp opponents of both the United States and the Soviet Union. The New York party was being run by the Draperites, including as their allies a motley collection of assorted socialists, pacifists, countercultural druggies, and left-libertarians.

The opposition within PFP was indeed being run by the Maoist Progressive Labor Party (PL), who the Draperites feared were plotting a takeover. Actually, it soon became clear that PL had no such intention, but were only keeping their hand in, and were using the West Side Club to recruit candidate-members into PL. Both PL and the Draperites were keeping the structure loose while waiting for an expected flood of Gene McCarthy followers after Humphrey's expected Democratic nomination victory — a flood that, of course, never materialized. Hence the loose ideological requirement, and the fact that the platform was up for grabs. The alliance between PL and us libertarians was highly useful to both sides, in addition to cooperating in fending off Draperite dictatorship in the name of democracy. What PL got out of it was a cover for their recruiting, since no one could of course call us vehement antisocialists tools of Progressive Labor. What we got out of it was PL's firm support for an ideological platform — adopted by our joint caucus — that was probably the most libertarian of any party since the days of Cleveland Democracy. The PL people were pleasantly "straight" and nondruggie, although quite robotic, resembling left-wing Randians.

The great exception was the delightful Jake Rosen, the absolute head of PL's fraction in the PFP. Rosen — bright, joyous, witty, and decidedly nonrobotic — knew the score. One of my fondest memories of life in the PFP was of Jake Rosen trying to justify our laissez-faire platform to his Maoist dunderheads:

"Hey, Jake, what does this mean: absolute freedom of trade and opposition to all government restrictions?"

"Er, that's the 'antimonopoly coalition'."

"Oh, yeah."

Jake, with more sincerity, joined us in opposing guaranteed annual income plans; he considered them bourgeois and "reactionary." About the only thing Jake balked at was our proposal that our caucus come out for immediate abolition of rent control.

"Hey, fellas, look, I'd love to do it, but we have commitments to tenant groups."

Graciously, we let him off the hook.

With his personality, I didn't think Jake would last in PL. In addition he had already implicitly rebelled against party discipline. An obviously bright guy, Jake had accepted PL's orders to be "working class" and became a construction worker; but he stubbornly failed to obey orders and move from the hip, cosmopolitan West Side of Manhattan to Queens. ("Jake, no construction worker lives on the West Side.") Indeed, a year or so after the breakup of the PFP, Jake left or was expelled from PL, and immediately went upwardly mobile, moving to Chicago and becoming a successful commodity broker.

As the McCarthy people failed to come in, conflicts within the party became ever greater, and the New York PFP began having almost weekly conventions. In addition to the PL Draperite conflict, the Communist Party set up its competing front in New York, the "Freedom and Peace Party" (FPP), the existence of which began to confuse everyone, including the Left. Trying to put down the schisms, the California Draperites sent to run the New York party the supposedly legendary organizer Comrade Carlos, a Chicano whom the Draperite wing found to be charismatic, and to whom the rest of us took a strong dislike.[5]

Although the PFP was clearly fizzling, the time finally came in late summer for nominations. The Draperites had decided on the ex-rapist Eldridge Cleaver for president, then head of the Black Panther Party. Cleaver displayed his contempt for the PFP by not showing up, and sending Black Panther sidekick Bobby Seale to sneer openly at his honkie admirers, who masochistically welcomed every sign of Panther derision. No one opposed Cleaver for the nomination; and since the PL bloc abstained, and since my libertarian colleagues did not make the early morning hour, it turned out that mine was the only vote cast against Eldridge Cleaver for president — not a bad legacy of my time on the New Left.

For the US Senate nomination, the veteran socialist-pacifist David McReynolds was the Draperite candidate, and I was persuaded to run against him to represent the PL-libertarian opposition. I agreed to run only because I knew darn well that there was no chance at all to defeat McReynolds.

I did not envy McReynolds's day in the sun. The Freedom and Peace Party was running a black candidate for Senate, and the Black Panthers did not wish to oppose a fellow Afro-American with the white McReynolds. The Black Panthers apparently pulled a gun on McReynolds, ordering him to withdraw his candidacy. What happened after that is hazy; I don't believe that McReynolds withdrew, but on the other hand I don't believe that either of these people made it to the ballot — and the 1968 election turned out to be the end of the PFP (except in California) and the FPP. And, oh yes, I heard later that Comrade Carlos had turned out to be a police agent.

A coda: years later, I happened to run into McReynolds, at a meeting trying vainly to bring some people into libertarianism. He kept telling me mournfully: "You gave us a lot of trouble in '68. A lot of trouble." I was trying to be polite at this little gathering, so I didn't tell him how delighted I was at his tribute.

By the end of the 1960s, the New Left had unfortunately vindicated Carl Oglesby's warning, and had abandoned its high libertarian promise of the mid-'60s. Unstable and lacking a coherent ideology, SDS, in response to the Leninism and Stalinism of its Progressive Labor faction, itself reverted to these Old Left creeds, albeit in a still more radical and hopped-up form.

Increasingly lured by the "counterculture" and by anti-intellectualism generally, the New Left increasingly ignored scholarship in favor of unthinking "action," and the Free Universities faded away into scattered centers of avant-garde eurythmics and instruction in radio repair.[6] And educational reform increasingly turned into an attempt to destroy all intellectual and educational standards, and to replace content in courses by rap sessions about the students' "feelings."

Finally, shorn of scholarship, of intellectuality, and of strategic perspective, the remnants of the New Left were to burn themselves out and disappear after the breakup of SDS in 1969 into an orgy of senseless and indiscriminate violence. Despairing of the entire American population as hopelessly bourgeois, the SDS remnants had disastrously concluded that all America — working class, middle class, or whatever — was The Enemy and had to be destroyed. By 1970 the New Left was effectively dead, and put out of its misery by Mr. Nixon's masterstroke of repealing the draft that year. Deprived of worry about being drafted, the student idealists effectively ended their protest — though the war in Vietnam was to continue for several years.

Looking back over the experiment of alliance with the New Left, it also became clear that the result had in many cases been disastrous for libertarians; for, isolated and scattered as these young libertarians were, the Clarks and the Milchmans and some of the Glaser-Kansas group were soon to become leftists in fact, and in particular to abandon the very devotion to individualism, private property rights, and the free-market economy that had brought them to libertarianism, and then to the New Left alliance, in the first place.

We came to realize that, as Marxian groups had discovered in the past, a cadre with no organization and with no continuing program of "internal education" and reinforcement is bound to defect and melt away in the course of working with far stronger allies. The libertarian groupings would have to be rebuilt as a self-conscious movement, and its major emphasis would have to be on nourishing, maintaining, and extending the libertarian cadre itself. Only operating from such a cadre could we make strong and fruitful alliances with no danger to the libertarian movement itself.

In the meanwhile, the Buckleyite right wing was progressively abandoning even its rhetorical devotion to libertarian ideals. For National Review and its associates had learned what they believed to be the lesson of the Goldwater rout; from that point on, the conservative movement would shed itself of any and all "extremist" elements, whether in domestic or foreign affairs, and move in a "responsible" and "respectable" manner toward the seats of power for which it had yearned for so many years.

As the pope — as well as the insult comic — of the movement, Bill Buckley presided over the excommunicating and purging from conservatism of any and all elements that might prove embarrassing in its quest for respectability and power: libertarians, Birchers, atheists, ultra-Catholics, Randians, anyone who might disturb conservatism in its cozy sharing of political rule.

Hence by 1968, with the exception of Frank Meyer, who still adhered to Ronald Reagan, all conservative doubts about the greatness and wisdom of Richard Milhous Nixon had been effectively stilled; and Bill Buckley was suitably rewarded by the Nixon administration with a post as member of the Advisory Commission of the US Information Agency (USIA), our Ministry of Propaganda overseas. Buckley induced Frank Shakespeare, the conservative head of USIA, to hire National Review editor James Burnham to compile a list of deserving books to be placed in USIA libraries in foreign countries. Prominent on Burnham's list were — surprise! surprise! — the works of both Burnham and Buckley who, wrote Burnham, is "one of the best-known writers of his generation."

In a perceptive review of one of Buckley's later books, left-liberal Margot Hentoff noted and lamented the drift of conservatism into joining the Establishment, the very Establishment which even National Review, in its early years, used to attack. As Mrs. Hentoff stated:

What happened to Mr. Buckley, along with the rest of us, was the breaking down of traditional ideological compartments, the blurring of traditional alliances and enmities. Not only did the old New Deal and New Frontier politics lose credence with the left, but the left then walked off with the conservative banners of nonintervention, freedom from governmental coercion, rugged individualism, decentralization, and, in some cases, racial separatism….

It appears that Mr. Buckley is beginning to take on the weight of middle-aged responsibility, sounding more often like a resilient prince of the Church than like a purifying spirit.

Mrs. Hentoff concluded that Buckley had been moving "toward a rather awful kind of moderation…. He is now more aware of consequence, as he moves away from the absence of power, that condition which was his abiding charm."[7]

Thus, apart from its abiding thirst for war, the existing (1971) right wing is scarcely distinguishable from old-style, conservative liberalism. (And even on war the difference is really one of degree.) Apart from style, there is very little to distinguish, say, Bill Buckley from Sidney Hook, or Senator Tower from former Senator Dodd, despite the latter's more New Dealish voting record. On hawkish foreign policy, on aggrandizing militarism and the military-industrial complex, on crushing civil liberties and granting unchecked powers to the police, on aggrandizing executive power and privilege — in short, on the major problems of our time, the conservatives and liberals are in broad agreement.

And even their seeming disagreement on free-market versus liberal economics has virtually disappeared in the implicit acceptance by both conservatives and liberals of the New Deal-Great Society Corporate State neo-Mercantilist Consensus. With his adoption of the Milton Friedman-Robert Theobald guaranteed income proposal, with his fight to bail out the SST (supersonic transport) program and Lockheed, with his nationalization of the passenger-car industry to the hosannas of conservatives, liberals and the industry itself, Richard Nixon has completed the process of integrating the right wing into the post–New Deal consensus. As the Marxist historian Eugene D. Genovese has perceptively put it: "President Nixon's right-wing liberalism is the counterpart of the Communist Party's left-wing liberalism — that is, each advances solutions within the established consensus of liberal social policy."[8]

And so we now face an America ruled alternately by scarcely differentiated conservative and liberal wings of the same state-corporatist system. Within the ranks of liberalism there is a growing number of disaffected people who are increasingly facing the fact that their own credo, liberalism, has been in power for forty years, and what has it wrought? Executive dictation, unending war in Vietnam, imperialism abroad and militarism and conscription at home, intimate partnership between Big Business and Leviathan Government. An increasing number of liberals are facing this critical failure and are recognizing that liberalism itself is to blame. They are beginning to see that Lyndon Johnson was absolutely correct in habitually referring to Franklin Roosevelt as his "Big Daddy." The paternity is clear, and the whole crew stands or falls together.

Where, then, can disaffected liberals turn? Not to the current Right, which offers them only more of the same, spiced with a more jingoistic and theocratic flavor. Not to the New Left, which destroyed itself in despair and random violence. Libertarianism, to many liberals, offers itself as the place to turn.

And so libertarianism itself grows apace, fueled by split-offs from conservatism and liberalism alike. Just as conservatives and liberals have effectively blended into a consensus to uphold the Establishment, so what America needs now — and can have — is a countercoalition in opposition to the Welfare-Warfare State, a coalition that would favor the short-term libertarian goals of militant opposition to the Vietnam War and the Cold War generally, and to conscription, the military-industrial complex, and the high taxes and accelerated inflation that the state has needed to finance these statist measures. It would be a coalition to advance the cause of both civil liberty and economic freedom from government dictation. It would be, in many ways, a renaissance of a coalition between the best of the Old Right and the old New Left, a return to the glorious days when elements of Left and Right stood shoulder to shoulder to oppose the conquest of the Philippines and America's entry into World Wars I and II. Here would be a coalition that could appeal to all groups throughout America, to the middle class, workers, students, liberals, and conservatives alike.

But Middle America, for the sake of gaining freedom from high taxes, inflation, and monopoly, would have to accept the idea of personal liberty and a loss of national face abroad. And liberals and leftists, for the sake of dismantling the war machine and the American Empire, would have to give up the cherished Old Left-liberal dream of high taxes and federal expenditures for every goody on the face of the earth. The difficulties are great, but the signs are excellent that such an anti-Establishment and antistatist coalition can and might come into being. Big government and corporate liberalism are showing themselves to be increasingly incapable of coping with the problems that they have brought into being. And so objective reality is on our side.

But more than that: the passion for justice and moral principle that is infusing more and more people can only move them in the same direction; morality and practical utility are fusing ever more clearly to greater numbers of people in one great call: for the liberty of people — of individuals and voluntary groups — to work out their own destiny, to take control over their own lives. We have it in our power to reclaim the American Dream.

[1] See Paul Goodman, People or Personnel (New York: Random House, 1965).

[2] Ronald Hamowy, "Left and Right Meet," The New Republic 154, no. 11 (March 12, 1966), reprinted in Thoughts of the Young Radicals (New York: New Republic, 1966), pp. 81–88.

[3] See "'SDS': The New Turn," Left and Right (Winter, 1967).

[4] Carl Oglesby and Richard Shaull, Containment and Change (New York: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 166–67.

[5] One memorable moment at one of the PFP conventions was the usually phlegmatic Leonard Liggio leaping on a chair, and beginning the provocative chant: "Carlos Out! Carlos Out!"

[6] Another complete bust was the New Left ideal of "participatory democracy." It sounded good: in an attractive contrast to the "coercive" system of majority rule, participatory democracy could agree on decisions only by means of persuasion and unanimous consensus. Voting was believed to violate minority rights. I still remember vividly the "board meetings" of the Free University of New York, where equal votes were cast by staff, unpaid faculty, and students alike. Since every decision, no matter how trivial, had to be attained by unanimous consent, the result was that the board meeting stretched on, indecisively and interminably, to become life itself. Those of us who left the meeting in the evening to go home were accused of "betraying the meeting." It is not surprising that the Free University collapsed after a few years.

[7] Margot Hentoff, "Unbuckled," New York Review of Books, December 3, 1970, p. 19.

[8] Eugene D. Genovese, "The Fortunes of the Left," National Review 22, no. 47 (December 1, 1970): 1269.

 


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